By: Stacey Ballis
Publication Date: August 2017
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: August 15, 2017
Foodie novelist Stacey Ballis is back and delivers yet another delightful read in her latest novel, How to Change a Life.
Eloise has a comfortable life. She is a successful private chef and couldn’t ask for more perfect clients. Her corgi sidekick, Simca, is the only member of her immediate family which is fine by her. Eloise reflects on her high school years and experiences a pang of melancholy when she thinks of her ‘besties’ Lynne and Teresa. She thinks about Mrs. O’Connor and how she was the one teacher who made a difference in Eloise’s life. Aside from her loving parents, Mrs. O’Connor helped Eloise see there was more to her life than being an Olympic contender once those dreams were quashed due to an injury in her senior year. Time moves forward, friends move on and here she is today, months away from her 40th birthday. When she receives the sad news of Mrs. O’Connor’s passing, Eloise had no idea the event would end up being yet another gift of wisdom and hope from her dearly departed teacher.
How fitting the three women would reunite at Mrs. O’Connor’s funeral. They became fast friends in high school thanks to Mrs. O’Connor. When they reconnect, they decide to reignite the flame to their senior class assignment. Each girl was to make a list of things to accomplish before their respective fortieth birthdays in a few, short months. Lynne is a successful advertising executive and has no time for domestic responsibilities. She must get a dog. Teresa has mastered the art of being the perfect mom and homemaker. Her role of wife could use some spicing up and her challenge is to do just that. Eloise has been off the dating scene for more than a decade which is more than too long. Her goal is to start dating again. While the occasion for the reunion was a solemn one, it doesn’t take long for the three to rekindle their friendships. Or maybe the years have paved the way to show their true colors. Perhaps the resurrection of their ‘bucket list’ wasn’t such a great idea after all. Only time will tell if the three women make it to forty together with friendships intact or perhaps they will find themselves achieving their goals solo.
Stacey Ballis is the quintessential author when it comes to spinning a light and balanced read. How to Change a Life introduces three women (besties in high school) years later and Ms. Ballis manages to craft events and dialogue to portray a ‘that was then, this is now’ allure which is believable. The level of drama is tempered, but it does manage to surface at opportune moments in the story. Eloise is the grounded and nurturing type, Teresa is the loyal friend and Lynne is the jet-setter who may want what Eloise and Teresa have, but will never admit it. Ms. Ballis nailed the balance of conflict and kinship individually and as a group beautifully. I’ve had the pleasure of reading other titles by Ms. Ballis and, once again, say I am a fan of her work. I look forward to the next ‘foodie’ adventure.
Quill says: It’s never too late to change a life and become that someone you were always destined to become.