By: Jennifer Scott
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: October 2015
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: January 7, 2016
Jennifer Scott delivers a heartfelt tale of new beginnings in her current novel, The Hundred Gifts.
Bren Epperson is at the headwaters of the next stage in her life. She stands in the doorway of that monumental moment in a parent’s life when her little chickadees have flown the nest. Gone are the days of carpooling her kids, Kevin and Emily, from one school activity to the other. No longer does she have to clear the path from the clutter tornado in their respective wakes. The reality is, Bren is at a loss as to exactly what it is she is supposed to do with her life now that her role of doting mother has been replaced with the remnants of her once-full nest. Her husband, Gary, on the other hand, has no problem with moving on. He embraces the time to delve into his latest mid-life attraction and with the willingness of some of his buddies, forms a band. According to him, with the right amount of practice, they could be the next best thing to the ‘Fab Four.’
It's a new day and Bren approaches it just like any other day. She’ll head into town and hit her favorite eatery, The Hole Shebang. Their specialty is taking the humdrum, every day, ‘jelly doughnut’ and morphing it into the most absurd experience one’s pallet could ever imagine. Concoctions such as crispy bacon brittle and buttered cracker crunch were a select few of the many bizarre combinations to challenge one’s taste buds. Bren didn’t care. The kids were gone. Her husband was there, but absent just the same. Why not have two doughnuts today...
As Bren is leaving The Hole Shebang, she passes the storefront that has been vacant for as long as Bren can remember. Imagine her surprise when she notices the sign advertising: ‘...Love to cook? Love sharing your recipes with friends and family? The Kitchen Classroom needs a teacher for a holiday cooking series...’ Bren does love to cook. She’s been a stay at home mom her entire life, but that title is retired now that she has nobody to ‘mom’ anymore. Mayb...just maybe she could pull this off. After inquiring within and securing the job with little effort, Bren experiences a new pep in her step. Perhaps empty nesting wouldn’t be so difficult to endure after all. This is to say until she meets the likes of one Virginia Mash.
Jennifer Scott has a bevy of titles under her belt. While I must say The Hundred Gifts is the first title I’ve read, it is clear she knows how to navigate the pages and deliver an enjoyable read. Her subject matter is familiar and relatable in that I personally am not too far from my ‘empty nest.’ Scott taps into the wonder of life beyond the day-to-day responsibilities and challenges of child rearing. Once our little cherubs fly the coop, we find ourselves with an abundance of time on our hands, yet don’t know how to channel the overabundance of energy to fill the void. This is not to say Ms. Scott has penned a maudlin tale of woe with a lack of self-identity. Rather, she has planted the nuance of how fulfilling life can be in that next chapter. The Hundred Gifts is a foundation of feel good prose and reflection of learning how to reconnect with one’s self. It is a lighthearted resurrection that provides many moments of how to let go and reconnect with the inner person who is ready to resurface. I applaud Ms. Scott for writing a novel full of life’s little moments and the importance of making each event count along the way.
Quill says: This is a heartwarming story with a message of the importance of embracing life and knowing what to do with its gift