When Shakespeare wrote, “Frailty, thy name is woman,” his musing would never apply to Charlotte McAntic (Charli) who carries the weight of her family’s well-being in her very capable hands.
Yet, there is another kind of weight that preoccupied Charli’s mind (body mass index). For the woman who is governed by persistence, Charli is on a quest with her husband Pud to regain control of their lives by losing weight and becoming healthier.
With weight loss as a theme, Jena C. Henry’s second book in her Charli series, The Golden Age of Charli: BMI, is a stellar heir apparent to its predecessor, The Golden Age of Charli: RSVP. Sequels are often burdened by the task of capturing the charm of the original effort while at the same time establishing a distinct identity. Henry has proven that she is a writer who inspires reader interest and loyalty with her skill in weaving accessible characters and a relatable plot. For anyone who has struggled with weight loss issues, Charli’s story is a triumph of the human spirit.
In the first book, Charli worried that she was drifting apart from her newly retired husband Pud as he became consumed by his preoccupation with golf. Project RSVP where the McAntics connected with the younger generation of their family and offered encouragement and support enabled Charli and Pud to also connect as a couple. Project BMI (as Charli dubbed their weight loss goal) allows a new way for she and Pud to bond over the shared desire to become healthier. Persistence is one of Charli’s mantras so it serves her well. But a thorn along her path is Charli’s concern over Pud’s mysterious phone calls and behavior. What is he hiding?
Supporting characters such as Charli’s stylish sister Sibby and the McAntics’ sons August and Zim make return appearances in the sequel further enriching the narrative. In addition, Jena Henry’s writing style is impressive. Her words are beautifully appropriate. From the descriptive elegance that she employs in painting imagery of food, setting and the people who occupy Charli’s universe to the emotional journey that Charli experiences as she tackles weight loss, this book evolves comfortably from the first page to the last page.
Humor is the welcome payoff threaded in the pages. Weight loss is, after all, a sensitive issue. Henry recognizes this, yet at the same time, she balances the seriousness with levity.
Further, The Golden Age of Charli: BMI gives readers the opportunity to get to know Pud better. While the first book arguably spoke more to Charli’s motivations, Henry cleverly enables Charli and Pud to embark on the weight loss journey together. For the long term couple to work together with their weight loss challenges, readers see the strength of their partnership. Sure they argue like any couple. But they are marvelously attuned to each other’s rhythms. Finally, Henry rewards the McAntics (and the reader) with some romantic moments.
I will not spoil for readers the truth behind Pud’s mysterious phone calls and behavior. I will say that the revelation is well executed in the book.
I applaud Jena Henry for a stunning sequel that relies on character and emotion to captivate readers. The Golden Age of Charli: BMI will thrill readers as well as remind them of the resiliency of the human spirit to meet life’s challenges.