Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Interestings; Meg Wolitzer

The Interestings; Meg Wolitzer
Penguin Audio - 2013


 I had read several reviews about this book over the past year and thought the story sounded "interesting" (no pun intended).

The Interestings follows the lives of (6) individuals who meet at an artsy summer camp called Spirit in the Woods, in the Berkshires. All but one of these teens came from very wealthy families living in New York City, while Julia (Jules), was there on scholarship - her father passed away in his 40s of pancreatic cancer. It's the1970s, and during the course of that summer, the group calls themselves "The Interestings", making a pact of sorts that they will make something of themselves and their lives moving forward. 

Over the course of some 40 years, the lives of, Julia (Jules), Ethan, Cathy, Jonah and siblings Ash and Goodman are followed. If the group stays true to their promise, what happens when one member of the group makes it really big, and others are still trying to figure things out?  From meaty topics like feminism, the AIDS crisis, sexual preference and 9/11, to the more common themes like marriage, children and careers, the author explores these issues and more in much detail.  

Each of the characters were well developed and, while I thought that the story was way too long at over 500 pages, it was still a good audio book to listen to. The book was narrated by Jen Tullock who did a great job.

Throughout the story there were keen observations and raw emotions that really made you think about what each character was feeling at the time. Although I was expecting that some of the group would fare better than the others, I wasn't expecting as much tragedy as what was written into this story.  This story demonstrated how some adults never do realize their full potential in life as a result of the things that happen to them as children. Although I couldn't relate to a lot of what these individuals experienced, it was still a story that made me reflect on my own life and the friendships that were made early on.

3.5/5 stars
(library audio)

14 comments:

  1. Your review is so exactly what I felt about this book.

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  2. Great review. I started that book once but I couldn't really get into it. I stopped reading it. Maybe I should give it another chance. If memory serves, I don't think I read as much as I usually do before giving up on it.

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  3. I bought this one for my Kindle some time back because of a review that I read. The whole kids meet up at camp and we follow through their lives sounded good. I need to actually try to read it now. Thanks for the reminder.

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  4. This has been one of my favorite books of the past few years and I wonder what it would be like in audio. The writing was one of the things that most attracted me to the book...does that translate to the audio?

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  5. Great review, Diane. I loved this book... it was one of my favorites last year!

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  6. I loved this book and I listened to some of it on audio so I can appreciate the audio version too. I just found it so quietly sad. The friendships we make when young are never forgotten and this group managed to stay together for so long. I still talk to my high school friends but the distance is often a challenge.

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  7. I loved how this book deals with friendship and jealousy, but I agree it could have been a bit shorter.

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  8. Wolitzer's books seem to have very similar themes but they are very good reading. I haven't read this one but am looking forward to checking it out.

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  9. I started and stopped listening to this audio book twice! I really wanted to like it, but just didn't connect enough to want to keep listening.

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  10. I've read many reviews of this book too and am still on the fence about it. I like books that span decades and show the growth of characters. Several reviewers made me think it was dark. Now I see I need to give it a chance.

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  11. This was one of my favorites too.

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  12. I read this last summer and still haven't written by review! Oops. So your review was a good reminder for me. I felt the same way - that I didn't really relate to any of the characters. Funny because when I started it, I thought I would, since they were teens in the 70's - but the wealth, the NYC focus, and the arts focus made the characters quite different from my own experiences.

    Like you, I thought the author did a good job of telling their stories, though - basically, the story of real life with all its ups and downs. I also agree it was a bit too long, but I did enjoy it overall.

    Great review - thanks for the inspiration to finally write my own!

    Sue

    Book By Book

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  13. I had issues with the characters as they seemed a little too true to character. And while I didn't necessarily love the book I must have found it interesting as I spent a morning in bed reading the second half when I was only going to read a couple of pages before getting up.

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  14. Sounds like a good book club choice...assuming I could ever convince my group that they could read 500 pages in a month!

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