Monday, 30 September 2013

The Interestings

Finished September 28
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, read by Jen Tullock

I started this as an audiobook, but had technical issues, and finished it with the hardcover. In the summer of 1974, six young people, three girls and three boys meet at summer camp. They come from different backgrounds, but their camp experience bonds them together for years to come. Julie (newly christened Jules at camp) Jacobson feels the outsider, at camp on scholarship, the only one from Long Island rather than New York City. Jules father died the previous spring and she has been caught up in her and her family's grief until her arrival at camp. Goodman and Ash Wolf are from a wealthy family and go to private school. Ash has become Jules best friend and is the pride of her parents, while Goodman messes up constantly and yet his good looks and charm seem to get him out of most of the situations he finds himself in.
Ethan Figman is also at camp on scholarship but he is already showing signs of becoming a gifted animator and will go on to an immensely successful career in animation. He also takes Jules under his wing and gives her confidence.
Jonah Bay is the only child of a successful folksinger, Susannah Bay who travels a lot and provides love but not a lot of structure in his life. Jonah has a secret already at his young age that will influence the rest of his life.
Cathy Kiplinger is a gifted dancer, but her voluptuous body is already showing signs of preventing her making a career of dance, and drawing boys like wasps. Cathy is showing signs as well of becoming a girl with large emotional needs.
With the backdrop of this summer the Nixon resignation, it almost seems like a world apart from reality, but all to soon everyone must go back to their everyday lives. But the friendships continue and the camp recurs until the end of high school. A few months before the last summer at camp, Goodman finds himself in a situation that he can't charm himself out of, and the group of six is stressed and diminished.
But the connections continue and Jules finds herself a career as a therapist, marrying a young man with his own issues to overcome. Ethan and Ash connect unexpectedly and have their successes and their sorrows. Goodman and Cathy's lives are changed irrevocably and Jonah is a lost soul, forever affected by his childhood secret.
Back in summer camp, these six coined the name the Interestings for themselves, and they are interesting characters, but this book also highlights the fact that being interesting is more common than one might think.
This is a story of lifelong friendships, and of lives lived. It is indeed interesting.

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