Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Review: The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

From the author of The Summer We Fell Apart, an evocative and emotionally resonant coming-of-age novel involving three friends that explores what it means to be happy, what it means to grow up, and how difficult it is to do both together

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.

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: January 27th 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks 
Genre: Fiction/Coming of Age

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy from William Morrow Paperbacks via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

The Grown Ups is definitely a coming of age story and a really good one. Some coming of age stories can be boring and unsatisfying but that isn't the case with this title. It's told through multiple narratives which I adore and begins at the age of fifteen into adulthood. We hear from childhood friends Sam, Suzie and Bella.

It showcases how the decisions and actions of parents, friends and loved ones can really impact the lives of others and shape who they become. All three characters have families that are dysfunctional in one way or another and as the reader we get to see how this affects their relationships and lives. It also showcases the power of friendship and how everything always leads back to it. Each point of view held my interest and kept the pages moving. Some of Sam's choices did get on my nerves but I found myself routing for all three characters and hoping they would all get their happy endings.

The story really comes full circle. It begins when Sam, Suzie and Bella are all teenagers and their lives are changed by the actions or circumstances involving their parents. As time goes on they take on the roll of caregiver to those same parents. It truly is a beautifully written and powerful story of family, love, loyalty and friendship. It is definitely one of the better coming of age stories that I have read in a long time.

Robin Antalek is a new author to me and now I can't wait to read some of her other work.

About the Author
Robin Antalek is the author of The Summer We Fell Apart. Her nonfiction writing has been published in literary journals and in several collections, including The Beautiful Anthology; Writing off Script: Writers on the Influence of Cinema; and The Weeklings: Revolution #1 Selected Essays 2012-1013. Her short fiction has appeared in 52 Stories, Five Chapters, Sun Dog, The Southeast Review, and Literary Mama among others. She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.

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