the interestings

Still catching up after moving! Working on getting back into a normal life-rhythm again 😦 But anyway, the book I read during my last week at my temporary summer place before moving into the new place was The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. From Goodreads:

The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.

I saw this popping up all over the place a few months ago and couldn’t resist. At first, I was a little worried while reading the first chapter that this would be too YA-ish for me. It starts off at the arts camp for gifted teens and they’re all kinda pretentious and brilliant and everything… but then the book really grabbed me in the second and third chapters, and I found it hard to put down. This book is broad in scope but full of regular life drama and interpersonal relationships, and how those evolve over time through money, love, loss, parenthood, ambition and talent, jealousy and envy.

While The Interestings is billed as an ensemble piece, Jules is really the main protagonist. We have the insight into her thoughts and feelings more than anyone else, although I found Jonah to have the most compelling back story. I think I was sucked into this book partly because I’m a little fascinated (and admittedly sorta confused) by how a teenage friendship can develop into a romance and marriage, which is what happens to Ethan and Ash. I know of many instances from my high school where my classmates later married each other. I barely have any contact with anyone from my high school days!

There were some flashback/forwards in the middle of scenes that occasionally caught me off guard, and besides brief passing mentions of a few historical events (Nixon resigning, 9/11, etc.) it’s hard to place the characters in time. I liked how vividly Wolitzer placed them in New York City, though. The descriptions of spots in the city and just how it is/was to live there are great.

Overall I think The Interestings was a great summer read! And am I the only one who pictured Gwyneth Paltrow as Ash?

Read from July 28 to August 4, 2013.

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