Tag Archives: Contemporary Women

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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Review: Reconstructing Amelia


Reconstructing Amelia

Reconstructing Amelia
By Kimberly McCreight
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780062225436, April 2013, 400pp.)

The Short of It:

Is it possible to know everything about a person? What if that person is your own daughter? For Kate Baron, she thought she could answer these questions without hesitation, but when disaster strikes and so many questions are left unanswered, she’s forced to admit that she doesn’t know her daughter that well after all.

The Rest of It:

Critics everywhere have said that Reconstructing Amelia is the next Gone Girl. After reading both, I have to disagree because I thought Reconstructing Amelia was quite a bit better and overall, handled a little more realistically as far at the plot itself, but I still had some issues with it.

Without giving it all away, I can tell you that Kate is a type A personality. She’s a very successful lawyer, raising a teenage daughter by herself. She’s  a concerned parent but routinely unavailable for Amelia even though they have their weekly movie nights at home. Amelia is a good student and is sensible for the most part, but when she is chosen to join a secret club at school, her judgement goes out the window and she ends up in quite a bit of trouble, Trouble, that she tries to handle on her own. When she is accused of plagiarism, Kate can’t believe it. Amelia would never cheat. As Kate makes her way to the school to discuss the incident, She’s more mad than anything,  but when she gets there, the news she is given is even more horrible than what she imagined.

I must tell you that this book has a very Young Adult feel to it, even though it’s not being marketed to that audience. To me, books in that genre tend to take everyday acts and blow them completely out of proportion. Granted, a lot of what happens to Amelia is horrible but it’s a tad overdramatized and there were times where I just wanted to shake the girl. The same can be said of Kate. She’s the adult in this equation and yet, she had a very young feel to her. I didn’t completely buy her character and she frustrated me because she truly seems so clueless at times.

However, what I think McCreight nailed is how quickly things can get out of hand and how awful kids at that age can be to one another. The presence of social media has made bullying a 24/7 act and the unrelenting nature of that type of bullying makes it nearly impossible to escape from. I felt the desperation of these characters and how hopeless such a situation would be but it bothered me that Amelia continued to make bad choices right up until the end.

Criticism aside, it was a page turner. I read it while reading two other books and I found myself giving this book a little more attention than the others. But if you are at all annoyed by DRAMA and in that I mean teen drama, then this may not be the book for you. There is lots of drama and some language, although the language did not bother me at all. Nor did the conversations about sex which were actually pretty tame. The actions of some of the adults in the book will infuriate you so be prepared for that but overall, I felt it was an impressive debut.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.