Wednesday, June 3, 2015

#SRC2015 Review: The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

Title: The Grown Ups
Author: Robin Antalek
Format: Paperback
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: January 27, 2015
Source: SRC 2015

What's the Story?:

From "The summer he’s fifteen, Sam enjoys, for a few secret months, the unexpected attention of Suzie Epstein. For reasons Sam doesn’t entirely understand, he and Suzie keep their budding relationship hidden from their close knit group of friends. But as the summer ends, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters twice: Suzie’s parents are moving to a new city 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 takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers and plans an early escape to college and independence. Though she thinks of Sam, she deeply misses her closest friend Bella, but makes no attempt to reconnect, embarrassed by the destructive wake of her parents as they left the only place Suzie called home. Years later, a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother will reunite her with both Sam and Bella - and force her to confront her past and her friends.

After losing Suzie, Bella finds her first real love in Sam. But Sam’s inability to commit to her or even his own future eventually drives them apart. In contrast, Bella’s old friend Suzie—and Sam’s older brother, Michael—seem to have worked it all out, leaving Bella to wonder where she went wrong."

My Two Cents:

"The Grown Ups" is the story of Susie, Sam, and Bella and by extension, Michael, who is Sam's brother. When the book opens they are teenagers. It's the things that they do as teenagers that will shape them into the adults that they become. This book is really interesting because it looks at each of the characters throughout their formative years, those strange years from being a teenager to being a full fledged adult. Each chapter of the book focuses on a different character in a different time period. We see them first as teenagers and then college-age kids and then adults. This book tracks the trajectory that each of their lives take and how even after they flee the comfort of their suburban neighborhood, their lives continue to be interwoven with each other.

I really enjoyed this book. I think anyone who has gone through the transition between those strange years as a teenager to trying to find ourselves in college to becoming a full-fledged adult who has to do adult things will get something out of this book. In many ways this book is a traditional bildungsroman tale about all three of these characters. They start out not really knowing what their future lives are going to be like. Each life is different. Suzie knows what she wants. Bella thinks she knows what she wants but may not really know. Sam has no idea what he wants.

I really like the way that this book was written. At first I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the characters as we only get to see them every so often throughout each of the different sections. However, the author has a really great way of making the reader understand what is going on in each of the characters heads. We see them succeed. We see them struggle. We see them try to make a sense of the world where they are supposed to eventually be the adults even when it feels like they really don't want to. It was that part of the book that really hit home for me. I think I was particularly struck by the way that the author was able to show how sometimes even as an adult you wake up and wonder how exactly you got to wear you are. Overall, this was a good story.



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