The Golden Age of Charli: RSVP and The Golden Age of Charli: BMI focused on themes of family and friendship amidst a climate of change. Author Jena C. Henry’s book series could be viewed as a renaissance of the human spirit where one’s golden years don’t demand confinement to a rocking chair to passively watch the years go by but rather signals a call to action for positivity, perseverance and “pressing on” in the face of life’s difficulties. We learned from our protagonist Charli how to reinvent ourselves through retirement and that conquering weight gain was possible through perseverance.
Jena C. Henry expands on this notion of positivity and the possibilities inherent in life with Book 3 in The Golden Age of Charli series- The Golden Age of Charli: GPS. In this third book, Charli seeks to look for meaning to her life, but discovers (through a series of events) that as one is searching for meaning, it is equally important to listen to the various clues life may offer.
Henry noted the old saying that “bad things come in threes” and it becomes an interesting realization for eternal optimist Charli to allow the bad events she witnesses in the world around her to be her call to action to find meaning in her life. For readers who admired Charli’s perseverance in the first two books, The Golden Age of Charli: GPS continues to illustrate this character trait.
The thing about Charli, though, is that her optimism doesn’t overshadow her insecurities. If she didn’t react to tragedies and disappointments with fear and uncertainty, we couldn’t relate to her. Yet, I would submit that what makes her a hero in my estimation is that she draws upon her reservoir of hope as that undeniable fuel to “press on”.
Relationships are key to understanding Charli’s mind. Henry is aware of this and as she marvelously did in her first two books, Henry once again fleshed out these relationships. Charli’s husband Pud is back. He is still a golfing aficionado and his actions still frustrates Charli at times. But their relationship is a solid one built on a foundation of love and respect.
Sibby, Charli’s sister, is also back. I always enjoy reading about Sibby because Henry presented a wonderful contrast with these siblings. Like Charli, family and friends sustain her, but unlike Charli, Sibby is a whirlwind of energy. From her fashion sense to her personality, Sibby invites commentary and I suspect, enjoys being the center of attention. In addition, it is Sibby who serves as Charli’s reintroduction to the church scene. In the previous two books, readers learn how conflicted Charli was about church. The Golden Age of Charli: GPS changes Charli’s conflict into a more positive church experience.
I would be remiss if I didn’t remark on how delightfully appropriate this title is in providing a roadmap to the themes of the book. Our optimist Charli constantly expresses gratitude for her blessings even in the face of uncertainty. And while doubt is a healthy reaction to life’s uncertainties, Charli was never one to become hostage to doubt. This belief, I would argue, is why her mantra is “pressing on”. Life isn’t a simple construct with an always functioning GPS for us to follow. The navigation of life is full of missteps. The journey becomes as important as the final destination. In Charli’s case, her GPS isn’t as rooted in the search for meaning in her life as it is to listening to the clues around her so she continues to appreciate the moments.
Having enjoyed the previous two books, I had eagerly awaited The Golden Age of Charli: GPS to not only become reacquainted with Charli and her world but also to learn new things about her. Jena C. Henry is to be applauded for succeeding at writing a book that provides a delightful slice of life that will satiate readers’ appetites for excellence.