Friday, March 4, 2011

Book Review: "The Adults" by Alison Espach

This is one of those books that totally snuck up on me. As I read it, I definitely enjoyed getting to know the characters and really wondered how the story would flow. And by the time I got to the closing chapters I realized how much I loved this book. The characters are quirky, and at times they leave so much unsaid that I wanted to scream, but it all added to the book's immense charm and power.

When The Adults begins, 15-year-old Emily Vidal is growing up in suburban Connecticut. Her parents' marriage is dissolving and her father is planning to move to Prague. In the woods at her father's 50th birthday party, Emily and Mark, her next door neighbor on whom she has always had a crush, witness her father kissing Mark's mother. Shortly after, Emily witnesses Mark's father committing suicide and Mark's mother is pregnant with Emily's father's baby. These events send ripples through everyone's lives, and Emily copes with a growing disaffectedness by joining a group of misanthropic, critical teenagers called "The Other Girls" and embarking on an affair with one of her teachers, more as a test to see how far she can take it. The book follows Emily through her mid-20s and examines her feelings about love, family and relationships, and how difficult and rewarding they can be.

There's so much more to this book than meets the eye, and although there are more plot points to elaborate on, I'd encourage you to read this and discover them for yourself. Alison Espach has created a tremendously complex character in Emily; she has so many more layers than you think she will, and her story cuts so much deeper than you think it might. Don't be fooled into thinking this is simply a coming-of-age story, because you'll miss out.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I agree with you! I was thinking of Richard Ford when I began reading this novel. The story is funny, but at the very edge of each event in Emily's life there is something so profound and disturbing and lovely. How can such a young woman write such a beautiful and splendid book? The characters are still with me after a week away from the novel. Ms. Espach is headed for a place in American Letters! Gerry Dodge