Monday, January 6, 2014

The Interestings

I'd hoped to have a new blog up and running in time with the new year, but as with all the best intentions . . .

Last year, I read 129 books (I read The Eye of Minds last year, even if my review posted *this* year).

Appropriately, for my first book of the year, I have one that made all kinds of best books of 2013 lists. As adult contemporary, this is also outside my usual genres a bit.

1. Meg Wolitzer, The Interestings

I'm having a hard time collecting my thoughts on this one, which is probably a good thing. Several days after finishing it, and I'm still thinking about it.

The InterestingsI had high hopes for the book, not only because of the rave reviews, but because the book theme treated something I've been thinking about a lot lately (part of an early mid-life crisis?): can you live a "successful," fulfilling life even if your life looks nothing like the early promise you manifested as a teenager? The opening epigraph, in particular, is devastatingly apt: ". . . to own only a little talent . . . was an awful, plaguing thing . . . being only a little special meant you expected too much, most of the time."

And technically, this book is successful: Wolitzer writes well, her characters are complex and the multiple POV seems faithful to each character. The book is also quite ambitious, tracking the characters from their meeting at age fifteen at a summer camp into their mid fifties. And the philosophical question of the book was one that I found personally compelling--and Wolitzer's answer seems hopeful.

But. Somehow it didn't move me as much as I'd hoped it would. Maybe because I found the characters interesting, but not personally relatable? I didn't love any of the characters, except perhaps Jules (I loved her description of how difficult it is to be a wry, diffident teenage girl). The writing was also cruder than I like, just as a personal preference.

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