“Three Daves” by Nicki Elson captures life, love, and college in the 80s – the mixed tapes, the music, and the not-so-different-than-today Spring Break parties. The book is a simple story of the last American virgin’s love-life in Illinois in 1986. And yet, the book is so much more than that.
Jennifer (Jen — not Jenny) Whitman perfectly illustrates the “nice girl’s” struggle to have a little fun without becoming the campus slut. Enter David, Dave, and Big D. David is the classic pre-grunge mellow guy who’s easily your best friend. Dave is the suave, dangerous, ultimately crushing man you know you shouldn’t go for — but we all have. And finally, Big D is the campus jock all the girls swoon over; even though Jen swore off Greek life, she can’t resist Big D’s charm.
The best part about this period-piece is that each scene is wholly relatable and relevant to any generation. I felt like I was right there with her – judging her friends for being a little too trashy at times, while wanting her to go home with the hot guy from the party, feeling the sobering embarrassment of being blown off, and cheering for her to pick the right Dave.
Many novels take the reader to jobs they’ve never had, to countries they’ve never visited, to relationship scenarios they’ve never experienced – and usually that’s my favorite part of reading. But there’s something about “Three Daves” that hits so close to home, even while taking place in another decade, that I couldn’t help but rush to bed to keep reading. I even almost picked it up to read again right away because I was so hooked.
In an earlier guest post, author Nicki Elson paired all three Daves with her picks for their best matching wines. But I’ve got a match of my own. “Three Daves” is the kind of novel that I long to savor yet can’t help but read too quickly because it’s so enchanting. Emma Pearl Merlot 2009 hits the same notes – so divine I wish I could savor it, but also so smooth I can’t help but finish a glass quickly. The 2009 vintage was produced from slow-maturing fruit, just as Jen slowly matured from hopeful, lustful Sophomore to mature, loving adult. The flavors are fruity and complex, with notes of exotic spices, just as each of the three Daves bring their own complexity and exotic (erotic?) backgrounds to the story.
My advice? Rush to the store to buy this book, but then slow down as you savor it. Take your time – it’s worth the wait.
PS – Nicki Elson’s website has even more to explore – music from the 80s, a quiz to find out which Dave is right for you, her book trailer, and more: www.nickielson.com