Last week I found myself in my favorite book store in Washington D.C.: Politics and Prose. I knew I wanted to find a summer book that I would enjoy reading before school started but I came up blank. All the books on the shelves around me seemed bland or simply uninteresting. Finally, the vibrant cover of “The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer caught my eye – the bright rainbow stripes seemed to draw my eye to it. Usually a firm believer in not judging a book by its cover, I was hesitant to buy it. My friend, however, assured me that she had heard only praises for this book. And now I have to agree with those who deemed it praiseworthy; it is an excellent book.
The book takes place in July of 1974, when six teenagers are attempting to play at being cool. Their friendships that they form this summer prove to be the most important and consuming ones of their lives. They pass the time smoking pot, drinking vodka, talking about the latest cassette tapes and share their dreams and ambitions – normal actions of a “cool” teenager at this time period.
As the book continues, it shows the lives of these beloved characters in adulthood, when the dreams and special desires of adolescence have faded into the past. Jonah gave up on his guitar and became an engineer, Jules forgot her dreams of acting and resigned herself to a more realistic occupation and Cathy has stopped dancing altogether. The one exception was Ethan, whose talent endured throughout the decades. While the story shows their life over the years – some of them dealing with great struggles, others enjoying their copious amounts of wealth – Wolitzer shows how the friendships they formed begin to strain under the feelings of jealousy and disappointment.
When I heard that this book had been named the best book of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Time and The Chicago Tribune and also named a notable book by The New York Times Book Review and The Washington, I was delighted that such an incredible and fresh novel had gotten so much recognition. Though not a terribly unique theme for a book, Wolitzer seems to somehow make it special and unlike other stories of its kind. The way it is written almost allows the story to come to life as you continue to read.
The novel seems to effortlessly follow the stories of each of the students while also showing how their relationships evolve throughout the tale as their friendships become more strained. Though one might have wished for a more precision in the tale rather than the narrative bulk that the story has, I found this to be a refreshing kind of literature that I was not accustomed to. In fact, the way that the story avoids resolution and the longevity of its goal and hopes to retain its audience is what makes it such an incredible and captivating read. You truly can’t stop watching and waiting to see what happens next.
A book worthy of all the praise that it has received, “The Interestings” is something that I am glad I read at this point in my life. With my college applications around the corner and my future ahead of me, it seems helpful to read a tale about what students just like me were going through some thirty years ago and how my life will change in the years ahead. I truly believe that this book is one that all students should read before they continue onto college and the rest of their lives as it paints the picture of how life can change before your eyes without you even realizing it and the consequences of these changes.