I enjoyed A Life of Bright Ideas although I had a very hard time liking Winnalee. The ending, for me, was over the top sappy. Still, A Life of Bright Ideas is a great feel-good read with plenty of good advice.
The story opens with Evelyn "Button" Peters. She's just graduated from high school and has moved across the street from her Aunt Verdella and Uncle Rudy. The pair took over raising her and her younger brother, Boohoo, after their mother died from a lightning strike.
Button and Boohoo's father is alive, but is so depressed he's given up care of his children.
Button is self-conscious and mousy and often dreams of her best friend, the outgoing Winnalee Malone, who'd moved away.
Then Winnalee comes back and moves into Button's home. Button is ecstatic, but soon discovers that Winnalee has turned into a pot-smoking woman who has no qualms about bringing strange men (married or not) into the house for sex.
Winnalee carries much hatred toward her own mother, and when her mom shows up in town with Winnalee's infant, something's got to give.
A Life of Bright Idea's is about growth, growing up, and coping with loss. Through their friendship, Winnalee tames her wild ways while Button gains confidence. Together they battle their demons, and turn into the women they want to be.
There is one pivotal and hilarious scene that I'll always remember. Go naked girls!
A secret tore best friends Evelyn “Button” Peters and Winnalee Malone apart. Now, nearly a decade later, a secret brings them back together.
Nine years ago Button and Winnalee began recording observations in their Book of Bright Ideas, a tome they believed would solve the mystery of how to live a mistake-free life. Now it’s 1970, a time of peace, love, war, and personal heartbreak. Button’s mother is dead and her grieving father has all but abandoned his children. Quiet, thoughtful Button has traded college for a sewing job in her mother’s bridal shop to help her Aunt Verdella raise her whirlwind six-year-old brother. In Button’s free time, she writes letters to the boy she loved from afar through high school, hoping he will come to love her as more than a friend.
Then, like that magical Wisconsin summer of ’61, Button is greeted with the wild, gusty arrival of Winnalee. Now a beautiful flower child, Winnalee is everything Button is not. She’s been to Woodstock and enjoys “free love,” but their steadfast bond of friendship is tested as Button begins to notice the cracks in Winnalee’s carefree façade. And then Winnalee’s mother arrives with a surprise that Button never sees coming, and the fiery determination to put things right in both families once and for all.