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Don’t Think Twice

by Alison Lohans

This is a coming-of-age book with a twist; it’s Mom’s coming of age, twice. We meet Jan Crowther in mid-life, an emotional and physical wreck, desperate to find her runaway daughter, Lisa. To soothe her frantic soul, Jan pours her life story into a computer, hoping it will somehow reach her daughter. It does and it doesn’t. However, her story reaches out to her husband, her other children, and in a cathartic way, Jan herself.

Jan grew up in the late 1960s in Sierra Vista, California. She was an awkward and brilliant teen plopped into the restless reality of peace rallies, draft dodgers, hash brownies, the Tet offensive, and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. These events percolate while Jan falls in love with two brothers, Tim and Rob Crowther, who live next door. The three teens grope their way through burgeoning sexuality and the consequences of acting on your conscience. A lot hurts in the Summer of Love.

Lohans is a seasoned writer (this is her eighth novel) and she offers up a sprawling family saga. We first enter each of the novel’s nine parts through an omniscient narrator alighting on Jan’s current family wreckage. Lohans then takes us into Jan’s high school years using first person past tense, occasionally breaking out to address Lisa directly. This latter device situates the reader in time and place but can also feel intrusive. No matter; by a third of the way through, the book’s rhythm takes over and I feel as if I’m secretly poking around in my mother’s personal history.

There’s a large cast of characters to track, both in Jan’s youth in California and her middle age in Saskatchewan. Lohans keeps us curious about them all as we become absorbed with Jan’s life. Don’t Think Twice is an ambitious and complex story that reads like an intimate and honest journal. Teenage girls may want to hand this over to their mothers when they’re done.