Also by this author: The Wife, The Female Persuasion
Published by Riverhead Books on April 9, 2013
Read synopsis on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon/Audible (this post includes affiliate links)
Earlier this year I read Meg Wolitzer’s The Wife and I loved it, so I was pretty excited to finally get around to reading one of her other books, The Interestings. The premise sounded interesting (no pun intended) and I poured my glass of wine and curled up with my Kindle, ready to be wowed. Unfortunately, I was left unwowed. Before I dive into the review, I’d like to point out that I tried really hard to like this book. Really hard. When I was 100 pages in and things weren’t working for me, I took to Twitter and was told to keep reading, so I did. In fact, 100% of respondents informed me that it would get better and I would be remiss to put it down because this book was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. They were right – it did get better – but in the end, it never resonated with me.
The Interestings follows an unlikely group of six teenagers who forge connections at summer camp that last a lifetime. Some are strong and some are tenuous, but their lives are all intricately connected for better and for worse. In theory, this sounds right up my alley. I love books that span decades and explore how relationships evolve and change over time or reading about what actions do or don’t break a friendship. I liked the idea of the characters, such as the glamorous Ash and her “regular” best friend, Jules. I was also excited about the narrator, Jules, who was the social outcast who found comfort with a group of people she met at summer camp. The book had such great beginnings.
But. And this is a big but, I didn’t connect with any of the characters. Granted, most of them are pretty unlikable but I usually like the unlikable characters, so I was surprised to feel so detached from all of them. I honestly think I would have liked them better if the book hadn’t been told through the eyes of Jules, who I just found to be so whiny. Every experience was tainted with her Debbie-downer attitude and it became a distraction that left me exhausted.
That said, the book wasn’t bad. Sure, the story didn’t resonate with me, but the writing style was superb and is one of the two reasons I kept reading (the other being that Twitter told me to). There were also some characters (okay, one) that I enjoyed more than others, even if I didn’t connect with any of the others. But in the end, this one just fell flat for me. I felt like I was floating along with no real destination or feeling – I didn’t love or hate any of the characters – I just felt nothing (and it pains me to say that because I did so adore The Wife).