The Interestings

by Meg Wolitzer

Book, 2013



Call number




New York, NY Riverhead Books, 2013


The creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel one through life at age thirty, and in adulthood not everyone can sustain what seemed to be their adolescent specialness. Jules Handler, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. But her two best friends, now married to each other, become shockingly successful - true to their initial artistic dreams.

User reviews

LibraryThing member BLBera
[The Interestings] by Meg Wolitzer is, on the surface, the story of six friends who meet at an arts camp in 1974. Yet in this sprawling, remarkable novel, Wolitzer essentially tells the coming-of-age story of the Baby Boomers. I grew up during this time period and quickly realized that Wolitzer is
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telling my story, too.

Told in a nonlinear manner, Ethan, Jules, Ash, Jonah, Goodman, and Cathy grow from fifteen year olds in 1974 to middle age in the present. They live through Nixon's resignation, the Reagan years, the AIDs epidemic, and the Twin Tower attacks. They see the rise of the World Wide Web. They suffer through disappointment and depression. Some of them learn that talent doesn't equal success.

While Ethan and Ash become very successful, Jules and Jonah end up in careers that don't excite them. Jules struggles not to envy her friends and to find joy in her life. Jonah, because of a traumatic childhood experience, has a hard time figuring out who he is and what is important to him. Goodman and Cathy disappear, leaving a gap in the circle of friends.

This is not a plot-driven book with one tense, exciting moment after the other. It is character centered. We come to care about the characters and what happens to them. It is "a sequence of longing and envy and self-hatred and grandiosity and failure and success, a strange and endless cartoon loop that you couldn't stop watching, because, despite all you knew by now, it was still so interesting." Through these six people, Wolitizer has told the story of a generation, an extraordinary achievement.
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LibraryThing member bookworm12
A group of six teens meet while attending an artsy summer camp and decide to call themselves The Interestings. There’s the wildly talented graphic artist Ethan, beautiful playwright Ash and her volatile brother Goodman, Jonah the sensitive son of a folk singer and the brash dancer Cathy. Then
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there’s Jules, the average girl through whose eyes we see much of their lives unfold.

The story begins with their meeting in the 1970s and jumps around to present day and everywhere in between for the rest of the book. I'd heard mixed reviews of this one before starting it. I decided I needed a wide berth from both the hype and backlash before reading it. I'm so glad I waited. I listen to the audiobook and it was one of my favorites I've heard in a long time.

The fascinating thing about The Interestings is the intimate way at taps into feelings we've all experienced. We see jealousy, frustration, resentment, rejection, heartbreak, etc. played out in the tight knit group. Those moments where we are all the most vulnerable as laid out for the reader to see. We watch the characters develop from enthusiastic and earnest teens into reflective adults, though the scars of their youth are always present just beneath the surface. They each allow some part of their teenage years to define who they are throughout their entire life. They are victims of abuse or the plain one longing for a different life. They are rejected lovers constantly trying to prove their worth or the cocky teen who no real goals.

Each character rang true for me; they were people I could meet in real life. They struggle with the fears we all feel: should I love my children more, should I be self-conscious about my financial status, etc. I've heard many people criticize the books size of meandering style. In this case that worked well for me, because how often do our lives feel that way? Events happen and then are folded into the narrative, becoming part of every one's story in a different way.

Truly one of the most interesting characters wasn't one of the Interestings at all. The spouse of one of the original group doesn't join the scene until after their roles are established, but he's able to give the reader unique view into their world. He's on the peripheral of the group, part of it, but never allowed into the inner circle. His perspectives help the reader to better understand the group, both their attraction and their destructive nature.

BOTTOM LINE: I had such a hard time turning off the book each day and for me that's always a strong indicator of how I feel about it. Is the group self-involved, a bit narcissistic in the way they see themselves and their importance? Of course they are, but it's easy to be seduced into their world and I savored every self-absorbed second.
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LibraryThing member Randall.Hansen
Not to be too coy, but I found this book interesting, but not quite interesting enough. I enjoyed following the lives and stories of people near my own age, from summer camp in the 1970s to present day. One of the big problems for me was that the book is quite long and seemed to have about 10
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different endings... until it finally did end. Enjoyable stories, but felt the author was trying too hard to incorporate just about every life event into the characters -- drugs, sex, marriage, divorce, child abuse, rape, depression, autism, cancer. The novel was a very fine effort, but not exceptional.
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LibraryThing member tangledthread
I listened to this as an audiobook and found it interesting in that format. I'm not sure I would have the patience to read it. Maybe because it's been done before, think The Big Chill for the next generation.
LibraryThing member KristySP
I abandoned this book a little more than halfway through. It wasn't a bad book, and, at a different point in my life, I may have been more inclined to finish it. But right now, I like to be transported in my reading, and this book just took me to all too familiar characters with even more familiar
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I got bored.
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LibraryThing member eembooks
The Interestings would have been more interesting but it was much too long for the content of the story.
LibraryThing member NML_dc
Not my cup of tea, which I suspected but needed to confirm because I keep picking up her books, reading the cover, and putting them down again.
LibraryThing member hifiny
I was really disappointed in this book. I had heard good things about it, but felt that the story started slow and never gained momentum. I picked up as a part of a book club but wouldn't recommend it to others.
LibraryThing member jmchshannon
Meg Wolitzer’s latest novel, The Interestings, explores the decades-long friendship of five friends and their lives both together and separate. Meeting in their teens at a liberal arts camp, the group stay connected through separate colleges and get even closer as they enter into long-term
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relationships, have families, and start careers. Their individual paths are not what any of them expected or dreamed, but they each find success in different ways. More importantly, they remain available for the highs and lows in each of their lives. This character drama plays out over the span of decades and explores the highs and lows of life.

The fault of The Interestings lies in little things that aggravate and annoy rather than in one big deficiency. For one, the group is too old to have fallen prey to the “everyone is a winner” mindset that is proving so difficult with Millennials in the business world, and yet, that is exactly how they act. Having come of age in the 1970s, this Gen X group would have been subjected to the same tough standards and competition that defines their generation. However, they act like the much younger Millennial generation when they each take their talent as a youth and consider it a given that they will be able to make careers out of it, when the chances of that happening are slim to none – as the story soon proves. The truly interesting part of all of this is that it is not the parents who are encouraging them to “live their dreams”; the parents are actually quite realistic about their chances. Yet, the parents are shown as harsh and judgmental. This interaction between parents and kids, and the whole idea of being able to turn a childhood talent into a successful career is just not generation-appropriate.

Also, there is a disturbing trend in fiction to use a character’s full name throughout a novel rather than just once or twice for character introductions. Even after decades of friendship, it is still Ash Wolf and Jonah Bay rather than just Ash and Jonah. After a book is two-thirds over, is a character’s last name truly that important? It is a slight thing but seriously annoying, and it serves no obvious purpose. This sort of description is happening though more often in novels, but that does not mean that it is a welcome trend.

Speaking of characters, there is something quite despicable about Jules and Ash. Jules’ blind worship of anything related to the Wolf family is disturbing. Ash is too full of herself to be taken seriously, and yet, that is exactly what everyone does. She has a power that is undeserved, unless it comes down to the power associated with a beautiful girl. Her feminist career path is hypocritical after the stance she takes towards her brother’s “transgression”, and for that reason it is difficult to take her seriously. While there is no doubt that she does love Ethan and Jules, there is still a false note in each of those relationships. Forcing her friends to take her brother’s side or else risk their friendship, failing to include her husband on one key element of her family history – they are terribly manipulative and make it difficult to accept her as is.

As for Jules, her hero worship of Ash is understandable at first but quickly devolves into the absurd as the years pass. Their adult friendship also strikes a false note, as Jules goes back to her apartment and mocks everything about Ash’s new life but accepts the free vacations and other perks associated with being friends with millionaires. At more than one point in the novel, a reader asks just why the two are friends, and it is very difficult to discern valid reasons for the relationship lasting as long as it does. Jules would definitely be happier if Ash were not such a prominent feature in her life. Both girls are meant to be tragic but come across as close-minded and bitter instead.

The true heart of the novel, and the stories that derive the most sympathy, are Jonah’s and Ethan’s. Jonah is the odd man out - the friend on the fringe - but by staying on the sidelines, he manages to be the most normal of the group. His childhood tragedy is just that, and it is easy to see why he steps away from his music. He finds a fulfilling job, relationships, and a modicum of success that most people aim to achieve. In other words, he is refreshingly ordinary in spite of his talent and his musical childhood. Ethan is similarly sympathetic and enjoyable. A reader has no doubts about the fact that he loves Jules and has always loved her, and this definitely makes him a tragic figure. His success is genuine, unlike Ash’s, and his initial discomfort at her newfound wealth is endearing…until Ash tells him that he needs to start spending money. One gets the feeling that without Ash’s influence, Ethan would have been the one friend to have changed the least. Again, like Jules and Ash, there is a ring of falseness surrounding his marriage to Ash that is disconcerting. There is nothing wrong with dislikable characters, but there are one too many characters that do not ring true, and in a character-driven novel, this makes it very difficult to enjoy the narrative.

Jen Tullock takes a no-nonsense approach to narrating The Interestings . Her delivery is very matter-of-fact and distant, and it takes a while for a listener to adjust to it. In a way, her delivery makes sense as the narrator truly is a disinterested third party. Still, leaving all of the emotional context to the dialogue of the characters can be very off-putting. As for her characterization, Ms. Tullock does a decent job. Some of her female characters sound a bit like valley girls and her male characterizations have that pseudo-bass note that all women trying to pose as men use. Given the rampant use of each character’s name, The Interestings is one novel where the use of different voices and tonalities is not necessary to keeping track of the dialogue, and her performance might have been stronger had she kept the use of different voices to a minimum. As such, the audio version of The Interestings doesn’t quite work. Ms. Tullock’s performance does nothing to enhance the story, and considering how unemotional her performance is and how little action there is in the story, one would be better served reading it in print versus listening to it.

The Interestings just does not live up to its name. The group of friends have all of youth’s pretentiousness when they meet, which is to be expected, but they sadly never lose this attribute as they age. They come across as snobs, and it is difficult for readers to feel anything other than slight contempt for them. The insertion of political issues into the narrative is distracting and does nothing to enhance the story. While the study of talent versus success is intriguing, there is a considered lack of realism in this that mars this particular plot element. Similarly, there is nothing to promote a strong reader-character connection, and the story tends to plod along as it focuses on the minutiae of the group’s everyday lives. The Interestings are just not that interesting.
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LibraryThing member SonjaYoerg
Summer camp friendships are thrown into life's blender with Interesting results. In some ways, this is a very New York novel; it has that witty, knowing attitude. If that really bugs you, read elsewhere. But this is not a novel that skims across the surface of things. Hard truths about talent,
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success, jealousy and love are everywhere, and Wolitzer does an incredible job of staying away from the sentimentality one would expect in a book that so often looks backward in time. The characters are wonderful and blissfully flawed. Ethan Figman, in particular, is my favorite male character in years. All told, an impressive achievement.
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LibraryThing member pdebolt
I feared initially that this would be just another teen angst novel with its inherent insecurities and self-absorption; however, the adolescent years were the springboard for the relationships that developed in the mid-1970s and evolved through their shared experiences. The four main characters are
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Ash, Jules, Ethan and Jonah, whose lives intersect and diverge as they find their individual and collective ways in the adult world. There are two peripheral characters, the arrogant Goodman and the wounded Cathy, whose story line is a necessary adjunct to the plot.

This book explores friendships that withstand divisions created by diversities, as well as the disappointments and rewards in the pursuit of their dreams. It is wide in scope with a variety of mostly likable characters living in New York City during the upheaval of the 1980s and into the 21st century. This is a hefty book in both size and content, and demonstrates Wolitzer's writing talent at its best.
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LibraryThing member LissaJ
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Sometimes when a book gets a lot of attention, it means that it is pretentious and not much fun to read. This book was well written but fun to read and if it was at times pretentious, it was because of the characters and not the writing. The characters were
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insufferable much of the time but I always understood them and where they were coming from. Six friends went to an artsy summer camp during the seventies and named themselves "the interestings." The majority of the book follows Jules, Ash and Ethan as they navigate marriage, work and children while trying to maintain a somewhat uneven friendship. I thought the most poignant part was near the end when they were in their fifties trying to hold onto whatever special they had in their youth, and realizing and accepting that they would never have it again.

While this may not become a classic novel, it is extremely well written and holds interest throughout. They hype in this case is deserved.
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LibraryThing member AMQS
The Interestings is the name sardonically self-bestowed on a group of teenagers who meet surreptitiously in Boys Teepee 3 at a summer arts camp in Massachusetts. Jules Jacobson can't quite believe she's been included in this select group, which also includes the awkward but talented Ethan Figman;
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the beautiful and wealthy Ash Wolf and her troubled, handsome older brother Goodman; gentle Jonah Bay, son of the famous folk singer Susannah Bay; and Cathy Kiplinger, a dancer thwarted by her very mature body. While the long story follows all six kids to their 50s, the narrative primarily focuses on Jules, who treasures her memories from camp Spirit-in-the-Woods and the lifelong bonds forged there. Jules and Ash remain best friends, despite their wildly disparate circumstances. Jules becomes a social worker and marries the steady Dennis, while Ethan Figman and Ash improbably marry each other. Jules and Dennis barely eke out a New York City existence, but Ethan and Ash achieve stratospheric success: Ethan creates a hugely successful adult animated TV show, and Ash becomes a critically-acclaimed feminist theater director. At its heart, the novel examines a friendship tested by vast economic disparity and resultant envy.

While the book certainly has its detractors here on LT, I enjoyed it, despite its shortcomings. I enjoyed reading as the characters grew and changed, but remained essentially as flawed as real people. As in real life, this story has no neat closures, no magical resolutions, no instructive epiphanies. What emerges is an intimate portrait of baby boomers living real lives against the backdrop of the major events of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s. I listened to an audio performed very well by Jen Tullock.
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LibraryThing member msf59
Six teenagers meet at an artist summer camp in the woods of Massachusetts. The year is 1974 and a bond forms between this group, that will remain for forty years, following them through relationships, careers, artistic triumphs and letdowns.
Julie (Jules) Jacobson is the main voice here, although we
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get the perspective of each of the characters. She starts out as a plain gawky fifteen year old, with aspirations of becoming an actress and inadvertently becomes the backbone of “The Interestings”, the name they label themselves. As she watches a few of her friends succeed, she struggles to find her direction.
Like real life, there is plenty of high drama but the author avoids getting melodramatic, keeping the narrative grounded and mercifully free of the relentless angst, that sink many novels of this type.
This is a showcase for the craft of writing. Everything precise and on task. At nearly 500 pages, it never feels over-stuffed and lastly, Wolitzer has created one of the best books, I have read, on friendship. An ideal summer read.
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LibraryThing member PaperbackPirate
The story is about a group of kids who become friends at a summer art camp and dub themselves "The Interestings." OMG I love coming of age stories and these are artistic kids too! I was pumped. After we meet them they grow up and...don't do very many interesting things. The story dragged on and on
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but I have a pretty strict finish-it-if-I-start-it policy because I'm an optimist and always think the story can come around at the end. Not the case here. In addition, one of my favorite characters didn't even get a wrap-up at the end. Boo.

I wanted so badly to like this book but I just didn't.
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LibraryThing member brocade
A good read. The characters aren't all likeable but they're plausible. Wolitzter captures the mindset of the times.
LibraryThing member bookmagic
About halfway through reading The Interestings, I started to wonder when it would get interesting and whether all the critics that had written such glowing reviews read a different book than me. Nope, this was the book that is so revered this year. But I really don't know what all the fuss is
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about. Wolitzer is a skilled writer, of this I have no doubt. She seamlessly moves from past to present, from different narratives with perfection. But the story? Yes, it was good but not great and certainly not brilliant. So she writes about people whose lives are not what the expected it to be when they were teenagers. Pretty much most people feel that way, we grow, we change, life happens. Friends may stay in our lives, but those lives move in different directions. Different decisions are made, there are differences in socioeconomic statuses. Not necessarily to the point of having friends that are millionaires but enough of a difference. This just makes Wolitzer observant but there wasn't any profoundness in the story. No creativity. Any skilled writer could have written this but there was nothing to make it special. Read it only if you want to be part of the hype. Otherwise, I would recommend some better novels I read this year, like Reconstructing Amelia, The Silver Linings Playbook, The Painted Girls to name a few. You won't regret it
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LibraryThing member KatherineGregg
The Interestings, a group of teens who meet at an art camp in Massachusetts in the 70s, pass in and out of each others lives over the course of several decades. All have a talent - acting, dancing, music - which they passionately pursue in their youth but not necessarily in adult life. The book
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explores issues that we all deal with as we pass through our teens and into mid life - the meaning of life, work, friendship, love, family. What I liked most is that I am the same age as the main characters and got a kick out of all the references to the 70s - Dr. Scholls sandals, Tapestry by Carole King, perms... The book was well written and enjoyable to read but I was expecting it to be better.
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LibraryThing member chrisblocker
Six teenagers, many privileged, meet one summer, bond, and live out the rest of their individual lives in the following pages. This is the premise of The Interestings, but it's also the same basic premise of my own novel-in-progress. Fortunately, the similarities largely end there. Now, I don't
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know if it's good for an author to read a book that bears such striking similarities to his own (especially when his book is still “in process”), but I was too curious. Did Wolitzer pull it off? What element of this story did she nail that I failed to acknowledge? Was a story with this premise even interesting, and if not, what did that mean for my own novel? Perhaps the only thing worse than reading such a similar novel for an author is acknowledging the fact on the Internet. Yes, I'm that idiot doing so now. If I'm ever fortunate enough to have my novel published, someone will likely make the connection, say I'm tapping Wolitzer's idea and shaping it into my own. Fortunately, I believe the differences in style, tone, execution, etc. are great enough that most people, even if they've read both novels, will not make a connection at all.

It may be my personal affection for the storyline, but I really enjoyed The Interestings. For a large part, the characters resonated with me. Although the story is about six characters, it almost entirely revolves around two, maybe three. The others are pushed to various levels of insignificance. I'd have liked to have known more about Cathy especially, but Wolitzer played her triviality well enough that it didn't harm the plot. Jonah and Goodman also could've been more significant, but upping their roles could've caused more damage than it would've been worth.

The thing that perhaps annoyed me most about The Interestings was the snobbery of some of the characters, particularly Jules. Oh my god, I have this shabby apartment and I have to walk up stairs!!! Whine, whine whine. What is unclear in the way Wolitzer implements this whining is whether the author genuinely believes Jules is somehow underprivileged, or is using very subtle irony, masquerading socio-economic views within the voices of her characters. And it is for the reason that a reader should never judge an author just because their personal feelings are getting in the way. Dostoevsky, after all, was a master at rallying his characters behind the belief that opposed his own. While I admit, I wanted to slap Jules, so much so that I feel the need to mention it in my review, her complaining did not detract from the skill of the novel.

The Interestings is not pieced together with the most captivating of plots, by any means, and I'm sure many readers will not enjoy this book the way I did. For me, it's personal. (Then again, isn't that what all stories are? Isn't our ability to connect to a particular storyline based on our own personal experience?) Those who don't care for The Interestings will likely first notice the irony of the title: “The Interestings isn't very interesting.” And yet, I think that is somewhat Wolitzer's point. Personally, I love that irony. And I tip my hat to her, even if she stole my idea*.

* Assuming Wolitzer began writing The Interestings after she'd finished her previous novel, she probably didn't start the first draft until 2010 or 2011. If that's the case, technically she could've lifted the premise from me. I began work on my first draft in 2009. The idea was in my head years before that. It's a cutthroat industry and there are spies all around us, I say. Spies, spies!!!!
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LibraryThing member Hccpsk
The Interestings follows a group of teenagers who bond together at an artsy summer camp through a large portion of their lives. The story mainly focuses on Jules, the suburban outsider in a group of New Yorkers, and her friendship with beautiful and perfect, Ash, and creative but ugly, Ethan. The
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other characters are often sidelined or only briefly mentioned--as sometimes happens with camp friends.
I enjoyed this book, and found the writing to be insightful and well rounded. As often happens in long time framed novels large periods of time and major events get glazed over, and in some places this bothered me. As a mother I found the emotion and life focus that goes into your children was completely lacking for Jules, which made that aspect of the book very weak for me. I also found the mention of so many historical highlights--Reverend Moon, Nixon, AIDS, 9/11, etc.--a little Forrest Gumpy.
I do recommend this book--especially to New Yorkers, generation x, and people who went to camp as Wolitzer hits many of the notes that ring very true in respect to these areas.
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LibraryThing member GaltJ
I liked this book a lot and really enjoyed watching the trajectory of each of the characters as their lives unfolded. I did not think the foreshadowing was too much or obvious, as one of the other reviewers did. It also appears that the other reviewer had not finished the book when they so
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negatively reviewed it - the foreshadowing was not so obviously about a character dying young.
I enjoyed all the references to NYC and also getting a glimpse into a super rich life style, especially through the eyes of someone not so rich. I will definitely read more Meg W.
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LibraryThing member BookBully
I have a love/hate relationship with Meg Wolitzer's books. Often I fall hard right from the start ("The Wife") and other times I'm flinging the book across the room 20 pages in ("The Position"). Her new book, "The Interestings," fell somewhere in the middle.

It's the story of six teenagers who meet
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cute at a summer camp and stay connected for the next three decades. They remain deeply connected especially Jules and her best friends Ash and Ethan. As Ethan and Ash's lives shoot to the top, Jules tries to stay satisfied with a loving but emotionally fragile husband and a dull, middle of the road career. This isn't a literary "Mean Girls" since the friends continue to support each other and form an even tighter bond as the years go by.

Wolitzer is at her best when she's describing every day interactions and musings. What tests the reader's patience in this novel is a plethora of side stories that seem tacked on. An underlying subplot involving Ash's brother, one of the original six teenagers, often feels strained especially as the novel progresses.

This novel could have benefited from tighter editing. Reading it was a series of highs and lows for me. Still, I eagerly await the next book from the talented Meg W.
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LibraryThing member jstraws
I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, and I'd heard great early buzz about both the author (whom I've never read before) and this title in particular--so I had high expectations. I love literary fiction, coming of age stories, and novels of lifelong friendship, and
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this seemed to be just that. But to my disappointment, I was unable to get further than 100 pages into this novel. I tried to like it, I really did. I felt like I should, since so many other people did, and since I'd received my copy through the ER program and thus had the honest intent of giving the novel a thorough review. But 100 pages into the story, I found the characters to be so pretentious that I had no interest in following along to see where life would take them (and make no mistake, this is a hefty book, no small reading commitment). I walked away from the book reluctantly, with the sense that maybe I'm missing something everyone else appreciates. But my limited reading time is too valuable to spend suffering through a story about some self-involved rich kids whose lives seem to revolve around worrying about their status. I simply couldn't relate.
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LibraryThing member msbaba
“The Interestings,” by Meg Wolitzer is the type of novel a reader will either sink into and become joyfully lost, or throw it aside after 50 to 100 pages and never think about it again.

Personally, I enjoyed reading about these characters and their inner lives, but it wasn’t until I was well
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past 150 pages until I felt lost and compelled to find out how this epic drama might end. From the beginning, I found the characters fascinating, flawed, complex, and wholly believable, but I did not know if I wanted to spend more than 450 pages reading about them. When the book eventually grabbed me, it reasonably and consistently held my attention till the end. Unfortunately, I can’t say I was ever driven to read it. Yes, I enjoyed the book and I was satisfied with the ending. But unlike many other long literary novels dealing with the lives of multiple fully developed characters, I did not feel I wanted more once the novel ended.

“The Interestings” is a smart social and cultural panorama about artistic teens and what can become of them as they mature into the realities and complexities of everyday life. It covers the years from 1974 to 2011; the characters age from their mid-teens to early fifties. Since the teens in this story were all born around 1960, they are part of that hard-to-define, in-between generation, at the tail end of the Baby Boomers and the beginning of Gen-X. This is a special, blended generation that is often referred to as Generation Jones. I was fascinated by each and every one of the main and secondary characters, but I am confident that over time, I will remember this book more as a cultural and social montage of Generation Jones, rather a collection of stories about interesting individuals who started life with significant artistic talent.

Much about this novel harks back to Mary McCathy’s famous classic, “The Group.” Like “The Group,” this book has a lot to do with long-term relationships, sex, drugs, homosexuality, envy, body functions, mental illness, and more. But whereas “The Group” was shocking for that era, this book will hardly raise an eyebrow—our culture is just too open to be shocked by much of anything anymore. When “The Group” was first published, a lot of teenagers read it because it was titillating and eye-opening. That will not happen with “The Interestings.” This new book should have little appeal to current teens—their always-connected digital world is so wholly different from the social culture depicted in “The Interestings” that this book will appear fully irrelevant to them.

Meg Wolitzer is a smart and savvy literary author. In this book, she leaves her readers pondering many complex themes. What is it like to live an authentic life? Can friendship survive envy? How important is loyalty? Can artistic young people find fulfillment in life if the realities of life force them to take up careers outside the arts? How do you measure the anatomy of a close friendship? How do you measure the social and cultural anatomy of a generation?

In the right hands, this book can provide a delightful plunge into a fully imagined world. I recommend it, especially to those readers who identify with or have strong ties to people who belong to Generation Jones.
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LibraryThing member porch_reader
In 1974, they met at Spirit in the Woods, a summer camp for artistic high school students, a place where they felt they belonged as they did nowhere else. Jules was the outsider. Her father had just died, she was from the suburbs, and she was there on scholarship. But almost effortlessly, she fell
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in with a group of NYC kids. Ash and Goodman were brother and sister, fiercely loyal to one another, but vastly different people. Ethan was an animator. He quickly feel in love with Jules, who didn't feel the same. Jonah was the daughter of a famous folk singer, a quiet and sensitve boy. And Cathy was a dancer who was growing out of her dancer's body.

As in any good coming-of-age story, Wolitzer re-creates the strange world of adolescence in a way that resonated with me. She explores the universal challenges of adolescence through the specific struggles of each of these characters. But this is just a small part of the book - a story within the story. Intertwined with their adolescent experiences are the stories of their adult lives. Wolitzer explores what it means to have the opportunity to use one's talent and continue to feel special and what it means to have to leave adolescent talents behind. She follows the ups and downs of lifelong friendships and the decisions that strengthen these relationships along with those that tear them apart. She does all of this without judgment or conclusions about the "right" way to live a life. Instead, she validates the questions, the struggles, and the journey. This is a book that you should read when you have time to sink into the characters' lives. Even when the covers were closed, I found myself thinking about them and wanting to go back to their world, in hopes of insights about my own. Highly recommended!
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