Author: Robin Antalek
Publisher: William Morrow
Type of book: Growing up, friendship, romance, first loves, careers, milestones, divorce, close friendships, finding self, teen years, 1997-2012, New York, New Jersey, family, abandonment
Year it was published: 2015
From the author of The Summer We Fell Apart, an evocative and emotionally resonant coming-of-age novel involving three friends that explores what it means to be happy, what it means to grow up, and how difficult it is to do both together
The summer he’s fifteen, Sam enjoys, for a few secret months, the unexpected attention of Suzie Epstein. For reasons Sam doesn’t entirely understand, he and Suzie keep their budding relationship hidden from their close knit group of friends. But as the summer ends, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters twice: Suzie’s parents are moving to a new city to save their marriage, and his own mother has suddenly left the house, leaving Sam’s father alone to raise two sons.
Watching as her parents’ marital troubles escalate, Suzie takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers and plans an early escape to college and independence. Though she thinks of Sam, she deeply misses her closest friend Bella, but makes no attempt to reconnect, embarrassed by the destructive wake of her parents as they left the only place Suzie called home. Years later, a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother will reunite her with both Sam and Bella - and force her to confront her past and her friends.
After losing Suzie, Bella finds her first real love in Sam. But Sam’s inability to commit to her or even his own future eventually drives them apart. In contrast, Bella’s old friend Suzie—and Sam’s older brother, Michael—seem to have worked it all out, leaving Bella to wonder where she went wrong.
Spanning over a decade, told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them.
The main characters are Suzie Epstein, Bella Spade and Sam Turner, at least ones that narrate the story. Sam is best described as a hidden romantic who is afraid of commitment and is talented with cooking different food. He also makes sure not to have any attachments to his life aside from his family and gang of friends. Things seem to affect him for years to come instead of being momentary. Bella Spade is a friend of both Sam and Suzie and she is doing her best to move on from her failed first love. She wants to be a writer and seems to be comfortable with life. Suzie Epstein is the hardest to understand. She seems to not want affection or pity during her teenage years and she also seems to be very driven and very angry at how life was for her. While Sam romanticized their tryst, it seemed as if for Suzie it was a lark. Yet its odd that Suzie is the first to reach milestones of marriage and a good career while Bella and Sam seem to have floundered throughout the book.
Past holds one back
The story is in third person narrative from Sam's, Suzie's and Bella's points of views. The chapters seemed to read as more of short stories rather than a narrative. Yes, the author did mention who would be narrating in beginning as well as the year it was going on. I think what I had difficulty in understanding is Suzie and her emotions and motives. Sam and Bella were a bit easier to understand at the age and easy to figure out, while Suzie wasn't. The dialogue was very engaging and the story is plausible and believable. While I wasn't able to relate to the friend aspect, and I didn't feel comfortable with mention of drugs, its a good story.
About Robin Antalek
Robin Antalek is the author of The Summer We Fell Apart. She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.
I recall that in October I volunteered to do a book tour for the Grownups, and in November I finally received. When I started to read it, I really felt as if I was back in my teenage and adulthood years of sorts, back to sexual exploration. Its interesting too that the years that are used in the book have been very important in my life too. 1997 is the year I turned twelve and moved to the town I live in now; 2000 is the year I started to crush on my first ex-boyfriend, or rather early 2001, and in 2003 he and I went out. What's interesting now is that starting last year I feel as if part of me is confronting some of my past and part of me feels in both Sam's and Suzie's position. Sam's position when it comes to romanticizing the times I have been together with this guy, and Sam refusing to let a girl enter into the heart, and in Suzie's that she's in a relationship and has things going for her. I make a point of not mentioning my private life on this blog, but I found it interesting that there is use of the years that were significant in my life and so forth.
This is for TLC Book Tours
Robin’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, January 27th: Books on the Table
Wednesday, January 28th: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, January 29th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Friday, January 30th: The Book Bag
Monday, February 2nd: The Discerning Reader
Tuesday, February 3rd: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, February 4th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Thursday, February 5th: Booksie’s Blog
Tuesday, February 10th: 5 Minutes For Books
Thursday, February 12th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Friday, February 13th: Vox Libris4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)