'The Celebrants'

"The Celebrants" by Steven Rowley.

Everybody will say nice things about you when you're lying in a box in front of them.

They'll say you were everyone's friend, you were funny and wise, even when you weren't. You were the greatest person ever, just the best – and don't you wish they'd say those things now, while you're alive to hear them? As in the new book "The Celebrants" by Steven Rowley, those sentiments might completely surprise you.

Jordan Vargas felt like a time-traveler.

It had been almost three decades since he, Naomi, Alec, Marielle, Craig, and Jordy were thrown together by a student-transfer algorithm, which turned out to be a lucky accident. More than twenty-five years since they'd lived together in the same dorm. Over half a lifetime ago since Marielle found Alec on the dorm's common-room floor, dead of an overdose that marked the lives of his best friends.

Time flies. So much had happened since then.

Just before graduation, Jordy and Jordan had realized their attraction to one another. After trying a long-distance relationship, they came out to their friends, moved in together, got married, and "The Jordans" were now business partners.

All her life, Naomi had struggled with her straight-laced, unaffectionate parents and their expectations. As the only heir to their business and a high-level national record executive, she never wanted for money. Love, well, that was another thing.

Never one to buck the rules or ignore instructions, nerdy Craig's upright adherence to detail got him the nickname "Nana," a lot of teasing, and a months-long stint in prison for fraud. And sweet Marielle was a caretaker-type who gave and gave of herself until there was nothing left and she needed her friends.

Sooner or later, they all did: years ago, stunned by Alec's death, the Jordans, Marielle, Naomi, and Craig made a pact that each could ask for a "funeral" for themselves, just once, to reaffirm their lives. Naomi had hers. Marielle had hers. Craig had his.

And now it was Jordan's turn, before it was too late...

It seems unfair, in a way, that your life isn't celebrated until it's over. What would people say about you when you're gone – and why don't we say those things now? "The Celebrants" tips that question on its side and leaves an answer hanging.

Though it sometimes lags a bit and though the plot can occasionally dip into silliness, this book is good: a little The Big Chill, a little St. Elmo's Fire, the kind of buddy-book you want for the summer. The timeline is perfectly crafted, and author Steven Rowley packs a lot of characters inside it while still leaving the tale uncomplicated, which makes it one of those easy stopping-and-starting books you know you often need on a busy vacation. Still, bookmarks are optional; reading it all at once on a happy staycation isn't inadvisable.

Try to predict the ending of this book and you'll be somewhat wrong. Instead, just relax, let yourself imagine what-if-when, and enjoy "The Celebrants." You'll say nice things about it.

"The Celebrants" by Steven Rowley

c.2023, Putnam $28 308 pages


Phone: 954-514-7095
Hours: Monday - Friday 9AM - 2PM


Corrections: editorial@outsfl.com

2520 N. Dixie Highway,
Wilton Manors, FL 33305



Got a juicy lead or story idea? Let us know!



Out South Florida

Hello from OutSFL! We hope you'll consider donating to us. Starting a business can be a scary prospect, but with your support so far, we've had tremendous success. Thank you!

donate button