Published by NAL
Publication date: August 6th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction
Happy Any Day Now begins with the approach of Judith Soo Jin Raphael’s fiftieth birthday and in addition to the normal aging nerves, she is dealing with the return of her college love (who dumped her because his blue-blood mother didn’t think she was good enough for their family), the return of her father (who left her and her mother when she was still a little girl), and the impending death of a dear friend who is also a colleague. Drama aplenty, yet author Toby Devens doesn’t get bogged down by it but leads the reader through all of these life changes with sensitivity and humor.
Judith is a cellist for the Maryland Philharmonic. She currently sits second chair with her good friend Richard who is first chair. Richard is dying of cancer and his spot is open for auditions. As Judith tries to not only prepare for the loss of a dear friend but for the biggest audition of her life, she is also being wooed by her first love Charlie, now a justice in New York City. While their chemistry takes off where it left off, Judith still must deal with her anger at Charlie’s willingness to accede to his mother’s racism.
There are plots aplenty in Happy Any Day Now but they are not thrown at the reader helter-skelter nor is there a feeling of overkill. We understand what is happening to Judith and we care. The novel’s basis in the world of classical musicians is fascinating—the competition, the importance of infinitesimal details within a musical score or with an instrument that are game changers for the artist. It enhances the story but without adding too much weight. The half-Korean half-Jewish Judith faces not only a milestone in her birthday but in every aspect of her life. What is she willing to give up for her work and for love or is self-acceptance in both areas the answer?