the bright side of aging

Amsterdam elder diarist Hendrik  Groen is back! After taking a year off to recover from a dear friend’s death, he’s back at 85 to share his adventures, his wisdom, and his skills with his motorized scooter. Determined more than ever to take full advantage of the time he has left, Hendrik and his friends in the Old But Not Dead Club take to the streets to carpe the diem.

With warmth and wit, Groen again gives us a glimpse into life in an old age home, with the daily complaints about ailments, the struggles with technology, the daily bottleneck in the hallway as everyone waits for the elevator, and the meals with ill-fitting dentures and quirky digestive systems. He writes about the daily events in the home and in the world, offering a perceptive perspective on life from 85-year-old eyes.

But Hendrik is coming out of his shell. From traveling with the Old But Not Dead Club to joining in a parade in his motorized scooter, from learning percussion to making truffles, from taking over the home’s Residents Committee to sampling the cuisines of countries around the world, Groen demonstrates what it takes to stay spry and young at heart at any age. He embraces his own humanity by learning new skills, taking more risks, speaking out, and caring for friends in their times of need.

On the Bright Side is an absolute delight of a novel in every way. Things aren’t always perfect or even always happy in Hendrik’s world, but he’s honest and true and lets us all see into his mind and heart in a moving, hopeful, comforting way. I can’t say that I’m looking forward to dealing with everything that comes along with being 85, but if I find myself with just a fraction of his sense of humor, his wisdom, and his friendships, then I will consider myself very lucky indeed.

Galleys for On the Bright Side were provided by Grand Central Publishing through NetGalley, with many thanks.