Review: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

the interestingsI’ve had this one on my shelf a few years, and it had moderate buzz when it first came out. I had also heard at some point that there was a TV show in the works, but not sure if this ever happened or not.

The Interestings centers around a group of friends who meet at a summer camp for the arts, and the course their lives take through adulthood. At the core of this group are Jules (I’m sorry, but I can’t stand this name), Ash and Ethan. The plot of this book is just basically what happens during their lives and to their friendships. It’s more of a character-driven book, which can be ok when it’s done well (this is), and there’s definitely a storyline, just not much action.

The book explores the idea of friendships and how they evolve over time, and how they can be shaped by jealousy and secrets. The non-central Interestings all have some secret parts to their lives that make them who they are… two of them are romantically involved on and off until a rape allegation comes into play, sending one into hiding and the other to splinter off from the group; and another hides his shame of being drugged and manipulated by an older male family friend, not revealing this until he is much older.

It also explores the theme of growing up and having to “settle” when one’s dreams don’t pan out. Jules wants to be a comedy actress but there’s a problem: she’s really not all that funny. Even the jokes she cracks among her friends are cringe-worthy. She’s awkward, has crazy hair, and despite being accepted by this crowd of talented people, she’s just not all that special. So she becomes a therapist, and she’s good at it. She sees Ash and Ethan, who end up together, realize everything they wanted out of life, and it makes her bitter. Her own husband suffers depression and their marriage is dull, they have money issues, and so their lives seem small in comparison.

But Jules seems to be the glue that holds them all together. Ethan fell in love with her at camp and seems to have never quite gotten over her, despite marrying Ash. Ash depends on Jules for moral support, and shares the secret about her brother with Jules.

For me, the book kind of was a “meh” for me. This falls into the more “heady” literature category for those of you who are into that sort of thing. I wouldn’t be bring this book along on spring break, if you catch my drift. After reading it, I’m not sure how great a TV show would be based on these characters, but it might be allright. Just not that … wait for it … interesting.

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