The Grown Ups
By: Robin Antalek
Releasing January 27th, 2015
From Robin Antalek, author of The Summer We Fell Apart, comes an evocative and emotionally resonant coming-of-age novel involving three friends who explore what it means to be happy, what it means to grow up, and the difficulties in doing both together. Spanning over a decade, and told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them. It is the addictive and moving story of these old friends who wind up confronting their past in order to find happiness in their adult lives that make this novel an anticipated winter release.
Sam Turner, the summer he turns 15, feels lucky enough to enjoy the unexpected attention of his friend Suzie Epstein, even though it’s only a few secret months. For reasons Sam doesn’t entirely understand—and will never question—the budding relationship is kept hidden from their close circle of friends. But before their summer tans can even start to fade, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters twice: Suzie’s parents are moving away to save their marriage, and his own mother has suddenly left the house, leaving Sam’s father alone to raise two sons.
Watching as her parents’ marital troubles escalate, Suzie Epstein takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers while simultaneously planning an early escape to college to seek independence. Though she occasionally thinks of Sam, it’s her oldest friend Bella Spade she finds herself missing. Embarrassed by the destructive wake of her parents as they left the only place Suzie could call home, Suzie makes no attempt to reconnect with the one person she needs. Its years later that a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother Michael will reunite her with both Sam and Bella—finally forcing her to confront her friends, her past and what she left behind.
After losing Suzie, Bella surprisingly finds her first real love in Sam. But his inability to commit to her or even his own future eventually drives them apart. Watching Suzie and Michael as they seem to have worked it all out, Bella’s only to wonder where she went wrong and how to make it right.
I ended up being completely sucked into this book. After I was invested in the story, I had such a hard time putting this book down and found myself telling my family members that I needed "just one more minute" on the day I read this book. Anyone who reads a lot can tell you that that is a sign of a really good book.
This story is told from three points of view over the course of 15 years. During this story, we watch Sam, Suzie, and Bella grow from the awkward age of 15 to their adult years at 30. I think that most readers who are in their adult years will relate to this story because everyone know how hard it is to find your way in the world and deal with the multitude of issues in our lives.
Sam, Suzie, and Bella are part of a larger group of friends who somehow manage to stay together. These three are impacted by their fair share of problems: divorce, alcoholism, relationships, marriage, career choices, and caring for an aging parent to name a few. Each chapter is a moment in time in one of the three characters intersecting lives. Their lives and decisions all impact one another in varying ways because of how their lives have become intertwined.
This was one of those rare books where I found that I actually liked all of the characters. That doesn't mean that I liked everything that they did because some of their actions were just horrible. I liked these characters even though they made some horrible decisions and I guess I can relate because I have made a few of those myself. I loved the relationships between the characters and thought that their portrayal was incredibly realistic.
I must admit that I had a hard time getting into this book and the story did not immediately grab me. After I read a few chapters, I started to relate and eventually couldn't put the book down. This book doesn't have a big mystery and nothing is tied up in a pretty bow at the end. This book is a snapshot of a period of time in the life of a group of friends. We can only imagine what comes next for Sam, Bella, and Suzie.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who love an intriguing coming of age story. This is the first book by Robin Antalek that I have had a chance to read and I thought her writing style was simply wonderful. I plan to look for other works by this very talented author in the future.
I received a copy of this book from William Morrow via Edelweiss for the purpose of providing an honest review.
Robin Antalek is the author of The Summer We Fell Apart. Her nonfiction writing has been published in literary journals and in several collections, including The Beautiful Anthology; Writing off Script: Writers on the Influence of Cinema; and The Weeklings: Revolution #1 Selected Essays 2012-1013. Her short fiction has appeared in 52 Stories, Five Chapters, Sun Dog, The Southeast Review, and Literary Mama among others. She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.
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