Thursday, February 5, 2015
The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek
When you're fifteen, you think what you know will last forever. That's the way it was for a group of friends growing up in the Northeast, with mothers who stayed at home and fathers who took the train to the city to work each day, leaving the kids to form their own families with each other. Together they explored friendship, sex, drinking, loyalty, betrayals and family secrets. With all they've gone through, surely nothing can ever change?
There's Suzie who starts a relationship with Sam that summer while her family implodes. When they move away suddenly at the end of the summer, she throws out a bomb that can explode the entire neighborhood. Sam, ever protective of those he loves, works quickly to avoid the consequences her act could have. Sam never feels sure of where he fits in. His big brother, Michael, is the one who has it all together, off at college and studying to be a doctor. Bella, Suzi's best friend, is heartbroken when Suzi leaves, but knows it could give her a chance with Sam who she has had a secret crush on.
As the years go by, the issues continue to emerge. Sam and Michael's mother left their father the day that Suzi's family left the neighborhood and is now living in New England with a partner raising goats. Their father has raised them and is starting to find ways to live without his wife. Michael is now a doctor, always tired and pressured. In a surprising move, he has started a relationship with Suzi, who he ran into at college. Bella, after her broken relationship with Sam, is working as a teacher and living with a poet. Sam is drifting, never able to commit to a job or a relationship.
Antalek has written a novel about what it means to have a group of friends who are friends for life, and how families can both destroy and save us. The characters spend their teens and early twenties searching for the loves and careers that will sustain them for the rest of their lives. Readers will find at least one character they can relate to as there are so many different ways of adjusting to all that life can bring. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and those interested in reading about family relationships.