The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In “The Interestings”, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.
The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.
Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, “The Interestings” explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life. (Summary and book cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
This is one of those books that I think would be a little wasted if you read it too young. It’s not a book about potential and youth, but a reflection of middle age and the years both ahead and behind you. It makes you question what the definition of success and contentment is. Are you happy? Are you happy enough? What brings you fulfillment?
I found the book inspired some quiet reflection and made me think through a little how I want to live the next years in my life. It’s so easy to let the days fly by without a conscious thought of what you want in life as you get caught up in routine. This is one of those books that gives you a great reminder to make the most of every day!
Warning: Contains sex and drugs.
Rating: 4 stars!
Who should read it? Certainly anyone who is in their mid-40’s to mid-50’s, but younger audiences will find it intriguing as well.