Saturday, May 25, 2013
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
At a summer camp for the arts in 1974, a group of six teenagers come together as friends. They are fifteen and sixteen and somehow, of all the campers that year, they gel as a group. They call themselves The Interestings. The core of the group are Ash and Goodman Wolf, a brother and sister duo from a wealthy family. Ash is beautiful in a fragile way, interested in becoming an actress. Goodman is one of those golden teenage boys, so vital that everyone is fascinated with him. Ethan Figman is a talented illustrator, homely but witty and an obvious talent. Jules Jacobson is the group comedic relief, not sure why she has been chosen but desperate to remain part of the group. Cathy Kiplinger is a dancer, but with such a womanly body that she is destined for lots of love affairs. Jonah Bay is a gorgeous boy, a talented musician who is the son of a famous folk singer.
The book follows this group of friends over the next forty years, as they grow up, find themselves in work and love, marry, divorce, and have children. Some find success, some are lost along the way. Some are sick and others take care of them. There are alliances and secrets. The group is sometimes close and sometimes distant, but they all look back fondly on the summer they spent together as they learned who they were and how their lives would be.
Meg Woltizer has written a compelling narrative of how lives are lived, how our friends can define us and make us more than we expected to be. The personalities of the six main characters are finely drawn, each a separate person yet tightly entwined in the group over the years. The novel explores the themes of friendship and loyalty, of learning what one really wants and how one should relate with spouses, children and friends. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and for readers struggling to make sense of their own lives.