The Grown Ups: A Novel
Official Stuff –
Author – Robin Antalek
Pages – 304
Publisher – William Morrow Paperbacks
Expected Release Date – January 27th, 2015
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.
Spanning over a decade, told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them.
My Rating – 3 1/2 of 5 stars
I received this book from LibraryThing on behalf of William Morrow Paperbacks in exchange for an honest review.
The Grown Ups follows three friends and their lives for over a decade. It’s a coming of age story, how they manage their relationships with family, friends, and each other.
Sam and Suzie had a history the summer her parents decide to break up. She uses him but when she leaves, he still thinks about her and she feels nothing but guilt. When her parents move to try and start over, Suzie leaves behind a trail of pictures (literally, she throws them out the car window as her dad drives off) her father had taken of all the neighborhood mothers. Sam’s mom included. Suzie decides to not stay in contact with the friends she grew up with, embarrassed by how she left and her parent’s constant and very public fights that the entire neighborhood witnessed.
When Suzie’s family starts their new life, it goes back to how it used to be, surprisingly fast. Her dad is never around, her mom is drinking, and Suzie takes on the responsibility of taking care of her brothers. She wants nothing more than to escape and start her own life. She graduates early from high school and eventually meets Michael, Sam’s older brother. When their relationship starts she’s suddenly thrown back into the lives of her old friends.
Bella, whose mom is slowly dying from some mysterious disease, misses her best friend and takes comfort in Sam. Their relationship is off and on and lasts until college, when her mother passes away. Then Sam’s fear of commitment takes hold and he disappears. She eventually moves on with Ted, an extremely pretentious and obnoxious writer who treats Bella like crap and prides himself on being able to live in a cabin with not running water or electricity (omg I hated Ted).
When Suzie and her family leaves, Sam’s mother also decides to leave, abandoning her sons and her husband. He drifts through life, caring for Bella but never really getting over Suzie. He fails out of college, abandons Bella in her time of need and floats from one job to another, frequently landing back at home with his dad. He tries to make peace with his mother but he can’t quite let go if his anger.
I have to admit, I was so depressed after reading this book. It was too, idk, real (if that makes sense. It probably doesn’t). Good things and bad things happen to these three friends but the bad were the kind of things that leave a lasting imprint in you. Parents getting sick, dying, having accidents. Relationships falling apart, struggles to make things work, trying to have a baby and failing time and time again.
There are the good things too, like getting married, discovering what you have a passion for, and coming to terms with your past.
The time jumps and the frequent POV changes were a little extreme. Also, (and I have no idea why I feel this way but…) the beginning of the book was set in the 90’s but it has a 1960’s feel to it which takes me out of the timeline. I am roughly the same age as the characters in the book and it just didn’t feel right, the describing of some things.
There were some things left unanswered and even though I sympathized with a lot of what she went through Suzie annoyed the crap out of me.
It was a pretty decent coming of age book, I suggest if you love those types of stories.