Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Julie's Review: The Interestings

Summary: The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge. 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. Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life. ~amazon.com

Review: The Interestings has been much anticipated and it's been discussed via social media but I have to say that overall The Interestings just weren't that. Overall, they were a bit insipid. I understand what Meg Wolitzer is trying to do with this book and while it might have fallen short for me, I know that it'll strike a chord with many readers out there. Isn't that the beauty of books? I think so.

We meet a group of friends that join together at an artistic camp in the 70s. We go along their journey throughout the decades never really being invited in to that circle. We are looking through a foggy window, wiping it off to get a glimpse. The character that rang the most honest to me was Jules, but she wasn't true to herself. She never was her truest self around her friends, even though that's why they liked her. She always felt that she had to fit a mold.

The chapters go back and forth between past and present. Sometimes it's confusing and other times it seems to flow. I do like that we at least get one chapter with each character's point of view, because it gives you a glimpse into their psyches.

There is a lot to discuss in this novel and perhaps that's also a bit much. I don't necessarily feel that a book should touch on every single social issue that's occurred while the characters are alive. Ms. Wolitzer loves her words and you should love words as well if you are going to settle into this one. I also feel that she settles into stereotypes with the women in the book. Ash is beautiful and talented; Jules is funny and homely.

I will say that I really enjoyed Ms. Wolitzer's The Uncoupling and would recommend that one. I found the premise to be far more engaging that this one.

The Interestings will be a favorite among many people but it just, perhaps, wasn't the book for me.

Final Take: 3/5

Thanks to Riverhead Publishing for my ARC. You can also check out the Twitter Read Along discussion by searching #TheInterestings



Michelle April 16, 2013 at 10:53 PM  

Well, crap. You are only confirming why it is taking me so long as to why it is taking me so long to get through the audiobook. It's intriguing but not necessarily unputdownable, is it?

Farin April 17, 2013 at 12:51 PM  

This was a great review, Julie! It pretty much summarized everything I felt about this book, both the highs and the lows.

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