The 86-Year-Old Orphan

Tessie always knew that getting old was part of life. What she didn’t expect was how quickly it happened. Or that she would be spending her golden years in Desert Twilights, the assisted living facility in Arizona, across the country from her home, her family, and everything she had ever known. As her 86th birthday approached, Tessie seemed to spend more and more time reflecting on the life that had led her here, even as those around her were often doing the same. She was comforted by memories of what was, as much as she was haunted by thoughts of what could have been.

The 86 Year Old Orphan by Caterine Bellizzi is a heartfelt, and sometimes heartbreaking, look at aging. It explores how hard this natural process can be to face, the different attitudes people take toward it, and the different paths that lead people to what is, eventually, the same place. When we’re introduced to Tessie, she has been at Desert Twilights for three years already, but faced with her upcoming birthday, falls into a bout of nostalgia that is stronger than usual. Via frequent flashbacks, Tessie’s life is shaped, from her tumultuous childhood as the daughter of immigrants, through her early hopes and ambitions, on to the expected role of housewife and mother. While Tessie expresses very little regret for her life’s decisions, she naturally wonders how things might have been different if her choices had taken other routes and different points. Her fellow residents at Desert Twilights are similarly introduced, both in their current situations and earlier years, and although they have all followed drastically different paths, they have all ended up spending the ends of their lives together.

The 86 Year Old Orphan touches on a variety of themes, ultimately focusing on acceptance, and the fact that life experience isn’t so much what happens to you, but your reaction to those events. Over the course of the story, Tessie has a renewed sense of self discovery, and comes to realize that the best way to live the last years of your life is to be as happy with the present as you were in the past, despite the gulf of differences that might exist between the two.

The 86 Year Old Orphan began a little slowly, and as a result I wasn’t sure if it would be very interesting, but it gained steam quickly and before long I was completely invested in Tessie’s life, wondering where it would go from here. I cried more than once as well! Bellizzi has written a beautiful story that will make reflect on your own life, past, present, and future.

Pages: 194 | ASIN: B0898K76SM

Buy Now From B&N.com

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on July 8, 2020, in Book Reviews, Four Stars and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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