Thinking about the future is just as natural as sleeping and
eating for young adults, who live in limbo between childhood and “real”
adulthood. Those thoughts include wondering how everyone from a group of
friends is going to turn out, such as who is going to achieve stardom, wealth and success, and who is going to be mediocre. A recent release reveals those answers for a collection of artistically gifted friends,
as well as the triumphs and struggles along the way.
Released April 9, “The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer is a
story following six friends who meet at summer camp in the ’70s. Each has his
or her own artistic talent, such as illustration, dancing, acting and
songwriting. They come together because they are, self-proclaimed, “The
Interestings,” the most fascinating and important clique in at
The novel’s nonlinear narrative carefully reveals the
disappointments and successes of each member of the group. Although it may seem
at the onset that one of the girls is going to be the center of the novel, that
soon changes. The plot continually shifts between locales like the Wolf
family’s posh New York City flat and Jules Jacobson-Boyd’s cramped Brooklyn
The narrative is vividly descriptive, but not always where
the reader expects it. The exact shape of beautiful Ash Wolf’s face is left for
the reader to imagine. Instead, the way Cathy Kiplinger nervously bites her
nails or the way friends comfort each other is as clear as if the reader is
watching it from the same room.
The novel’s themes and topics have a certain realness; each is a fact of life that others struggle with on a daily basis.
Depending on the person, that struggle could be jealousy of someone you love,
the one who got away, a family tragedy or personal demons from the past.
Wolitzer fears no heavy topics, whether it is sex, AIDS,
rape or mental illness. Her frank treatment of these tough subjects is all the
more endearing. The world Wolitzer has created in this novel is never perfectly
happy – each family has its own difficulties, and happiness is a fluctuating
measurement of all the facets of a life, not just money and power.
“The Interestings” covers a time period that college
students are in the middle of themselves. When Wolitzer describes the post-grad
uncertainty of each member of the group, it resonates with those experiencing
the challenge of starting his or her “real life.” Her characters deal with
the same problems many will experience after May, such as searching for a job
in a certain field (and not having much luck at first, or ever), trying to keep
certain relationships strong or simply trying to be happy despite becoming
Wolitzer is not as well-known as she should be, with
11 novels in her repertoire. For those who need more
convincing of her talent, she has been grabbing the attention of writing
heavyweights. One of these authors is Jeffrey Eugenides, the author of “The
Virgin Suicides” and “Middlesex,” whose glowing recommendation graces the
brightly striped dust jacket of the new release.
Speaking of the dust jacket, the cover art alone is enough
to make a casual browser pick it up in the bookstore, because, admit it, everyone
does judge books by their covers. The cheerful watercolor stripes prompt
thoughts of summer, which is where the story begins, and everyone wants to be
A stunning success from a seasoned novelist, “The
Interestings” is real, oscillating between heartbreaking and heartwarming
moments. Wolitzer’s narrative, punctuated by moments of joy and sorrow, resonates
with readers, who are also in the middle of continual process of growing up and
finding a place in the world.