@jenabooks  What can we learn from Charli McAntic by Tracy Diane Miller

Books are the perfect friends. They are ever present in our lives from childhood through adulthood. We can depend on them to make us laugh. We can depend on them to entertain us during the long hours of the day and often through the night when we are captured within the depths of insomnia.

Books educate us. We just need to be attentive and eager students.

From a young age, I was fortunate to develop a special kinship with books. They became my earliest friends. They entertained me. But as importantly, I devoured the lessons contained within their pages. As an adult, I continued to be an eager student. I recognized and (hopefully) applied the education I’ve received from the many books that I have read.

The Golden Age of Charl: RSVP and its equally marvelous sequel, The Golden Age of Charli: BMI, are two books that have successfully proven that a book’s purpose to entertain and a book’s power to educate aren’t mutually exclusive objectives. Rather, there is an inherent symbiotic relationship between these two goals that exist for the benefit of the reader. Author Jena C. Henry skillfully and cleverly wrote an enjoyable book series sprinkled with helpful life lessons.

Our protagonist Charlotte McAntic (Charli) can reflect upon a well lived life surrounded by her soul mate, husband Stewart McAntic (known throughout the book series by his nickname Pud), her sons August and Zim, a delightfully stylish and free spirited sister Sibby, a beautiful and devoted dog Oakley as well as numerous friends and family. Charli has traveled and meticulously kept a comfortable home.

Gratitude is Charli’s mantra, persistence her roadmap and determination (a never faulting realization to “press on” despite life’s challenges) her buoy. She wakes up appreciative for each day. These are lessons that we can learn from Charli. When a newly retired Pud is seduced by the daily allure of golf instead of spending more time with his wife, Charli is concerned. Yet, she continued to count her blessings and pressed on through her difficulties.

Project RSVP enabled the McAntics to connect with the younger members of their family to offer encouragement and support (often through generously offering to treat these family members to wonderful meals at upscale restaurants). Charli and Pud listened to the stories that the younger family members told them about their personal lives as well as their career aspirations and successes. Arguably, there was no generation gap as each party enjoyed the other’s company.

A subplot of the book was when computer savvy August assisted his mother in digitally restoring old family photos (many dating over a century). Looking at those pictures cemented for Charli those long held lessons of gratitude and determination as well as the desire to “press on” through adversity. For this reader, a notion formulated in my mind: I thought about the lessons taught by my mother and the earlier generations of my family who constitute the strongest roots in the foundation of my own desire to confront life’s difficulties.

Humor is a mainstay in the Charli book series. Jena C. Henry doesn’t disappoint in generously allowing humorous dialogue to punctuate invaluable life lessons. While the first book appeared to be the McAntics’ maiden voyage navigating the deceptively treacherous waters of retirement, The Golden Age of Charli: BMI provided a new undercurrent with the battle for weight loss. Months of fine dining and partaking in great wines does not a healthy lifestyle make. Charli calls upon her determination and persistence to develop a battle plan for she and Pud to attack their excessive weight gain and lead healthier lifestyles.

Jena C. Henry is sensitive to the hotbed of controversy surrounding body image. Her writing approach to this issue is neither condemning nor preachy. The reader observes Charli and Pud working together on this goal. While Pud is still enamored by golf, another sporting passion (basketball) takes center stage in the sequel. Again, the reader is not only entertained but also discovers additional lessons about determination and persistence.

Much can be learned from The Golden Age of Charli: RSVP and The Golden Age of Charli: BMI. I invite everyone to explore these life lessons by reading these two stellar works.