Review: The Interestings

The Interestings

The Interestings
By Meg Wolitzer
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781594488399, April 2013, 480pp.)

The Short of It:

Good friends and a healthy dose of nostalgia. So many of life’s ills can be cured with that combination.

The Rest of It:

Goodness, what is there to say? I read this so long ago. Long before my blogging break and yet, it still remains in my heart in some small way. It’s about a group of kids who meet at an art’s camp over the summer. They name themselves “The Interestings” because they all have the hope of becoming something unique once they hit their adult years. Some have money and talent and others, not so much, but what they have in common is a sincere understanding of one another. Wolitzer follows them into adulthood and the end result is a fascinating look at relationships and how they weather the test of time.

I adored this book. Simply adored it. I listened to part of it on audio and it was fantastic but I also read some of it in print and it was wonderful as well. The story is told by Jules Jacobson as she meets and befriends this group of kids. She’s got the right amount of confidence and awkwardness. Just enough to make her likable and her ability to take in a situation and react accordingly is admirable. She’s level-headed, bright, but not perfect. In fact, none of these kids are perfect. Their outer shells sometimes make them appear that way, but inside, they are all vulnerable which is what makes this group of kids especially readable.

But don’t think that this is a young adult novel, because it’s not. They enter adulthood rather quickly and as with most things, their shine dulls a bit until they find steady ground. The aftermath of a rape, is what propels them quickly into adulthood and the way that they handle the event and the loyalty to one particular character is what eventually divides them. But their journey is somehow interesting even though much of it is somewhat mundane. College, career, marriage, children. The rut of adulthood is also the impetus to propel them forward.

Some readers have said that they found the book to go on a little too long. It’s chunky and goes along at a steady pace, but I didn’t find it to be long at all. In fact, I found myself not wanting it to end. I had grown close to these characters and through the course of reading the book, I felt as if I knew them and that they could easily be people I know now. There was a familiarity that was comforting. You know that movie The Big Chill? It was sort of like watching that movie. A circle of friends, made tighter by tragedy. The easy interactions, the “what if” questions, the effect that passing years has on a person or marriage. Everyone has that one friend that they think of no matter how many years go by, and so I think many readers can relate to what happens in this story.

Reading this book is like visiting with old friends and I loved it for that reason. I loved it for all the memories that it brought back to me from my own teen years and the fact that it was well written certainly didn’t hurt.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Library Thing
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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29 Responses

  1. Your comparison to The Big Chill makes me think I will just wait till this becomes a movie. More good music! :–)

  2. I’ve got this on my wish list, but the fact that it’s still in your heart after so long is good enough for me to bump it up to the top. It really sounds like the kind of book I’d love. Will need to decided whether to read or listen…

  3. I really loved The Interestings, too. I found myself highlighting passage after passage and already feel like it’s a book I’ll want to come back to every once in a while – you’re right, it does feel like a close friend.

  4. I have this and have not read it yet…I need to read it soon!

    I love the way it touched you!

  5. I loved this book, too. I read it as an ARC but bought my own real copy on pub day. And I don’t do that very often! It’s one of those books that it’s hard to say exactly what it’s “about”, but so much life happens in it!

  6. Thanks for reminding me about this book .love the way you described it sounds like a perfect read for me.

  7. Wow, you’ve made this sound so good! Booking Mama shared her print copy with me and it sounds like I need to pick it up soon.

  8. Meg Wolitzer’s books seem to be very similar to each other in some theme or the other. I haven’t read this one yet, but I’m hoping to pick it up next month. This one’s been on my radar all year long so I hope to get to it.

  9. I definitely want to read this book. The Big Chill is one of my favorite movies. I also really enjoy books that follow a group of young friends into adulthood. And I like Meg Wolitzer’s writing. She writes bigger books but if the story is good, that’s all the better.

    Thanks for a great review and a book for my tbr list!

    • I read another book by Wolitzer, The Uncoupling and didn’t care for it. It just didn’t click for me like this one did.

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  10. To compare it to The Big Chill is so totally spot-on. I can’t say that I loved it to the point of a five star, but I was highly entertained by it. I thought the only flaw is that it wandered too much, but the characters, their interaction, their love/envy emotions towards each other…it all felt very familiar to me.

    • I didn’t see it as wandering, only because I fetl like Wolitzer’s whole purpose was just to chronicle the lives of these characters. They wandered, as we do as we flounder through life. But I get what you mean.

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  11. I don’t read a lot of chunky books, but this is what has me curious: “In fact, none of these kids are perfect. Their outer shells sometimes make them appear that way, but inside, they are all vulnerable which is what makes this group of kids especially readable.”

    That alone in your review makes me want to check it out.

    • And these guys were true friends and deeply introspective. I guess artsy kids can be like that but I loved them for that reason. I loved it when they got married and brought their spouses into the mix. As a reader, you didn’t know how it was all going to fit with the spouses being so different, etc.

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  12. I’ve been on the fence about reading this one since I first heard about it, but your description of the writing and the characters makes me want to give this one a try, Ti.

  13. yes, this does sound good. It’s been on my TBR list so I was happy to read yet another positive review.

  14. I’ve read a couple of Wolitzer’s books and thought they were okay, but given that this one has stuck with you, I’m more inclined to give her another try.

    • Wolitzer also wrote The Uncoupling, right? I really did not care for that one! This one was very different. IMO. Better.

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  15. My stepmom is “babysitting” me this week and she’s lugged this book over every morning so far but never opened it. During Evie’s nap tomorrow I’ll have to urge her to actually read it before it’s due back at her library! Had to LOL over Big Chill comments. My parents had the soundtrack when I was little and I always enjoyed listening to it. ;)

    Glad you found this one to have so much heart! The weight of it scares me!

  16. I enjoyed The Interestings immensely and think Wolizter writes great books! I also listened to and read the book at the same time. I didn’t want to part with it, if you know what I mean. I was a bit disappointed that Goodmans character disappears, but thought it interesting (no pun intended) how his story is woven back in at the end.

  17. A LOVELY review.

  18. I’m glad you enjoyed this book, I couldn’t wait for it to end (slow, slow, slow)… but it’s a book that once complete time allows me to appreciate. :)

    No surprise here, I haven’t seen the big chill but probably should. I have heard only good opinions and typically like these movies.

    • The Big Chill is a must see for our generation. GREAT soundtrack and a veteran cast of actors that can rival no other. You must watch it and report back.

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  19. Ohhh I want to read this. Sounds enjoyable. thx for the review.

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