From Robin Antalek, author of The Summer We Fell Apart, comes an evocative and emotionally resonant coming-of-age novel involving three friends who explore what it means to be happy, what it means to grow up, and the difficulties in doing both together. Spanning over a decade, and told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them. It is the addictive and moving story of these old friends who wind up confronting their past in order to find happiness in their adult lives that make this novel an anticipated winter release.
Sam Turner, the summer he turns 15, feels lucky enough to enjoy the unexpected attention of his friend Suzie Epstein, even though it’s only a few secret months. For reasons Sam doesn’t entirely understand—and will never question—the budding relationship is kept hidden from their close circle of friends. But before their summer tans can even start to fade, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters twice: Suzie’s parents are moving away 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 Epstein takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers while simultaneously planning an early escape to college to seek independence. Though she occasionally thinks of Sam, it’s her oldest friend Bella Spade she finds herself missing. Embarrassed by the destructive wake of her parents as they left the only place Suzie could call home, Suzie makes no attempt to reconnect with the one person she needs. Its years later that a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother Michael will reunite her with both Sam and Bella—finally forcing her to confront her friends, her past and what she left behind.
After losing Suzie, Bella surprisingly finds her first real love in Sam. But his inability to commit to her or even his own future eventually drives them apart. Watching Suzie and Michael as they seem to have worked it all out, Bella’s only to wonder where she went wrong and how to make it right.
BFF K’s Review
Multiple characters, multiple points of view, spanning several years. The Grown Ups is one of those reads that builds characters and layers experiences and emotions one on top of the other over the span of the most formative years in life and leaves the reader raw and aching for the beautiful insights that turn the every day into the extraordinary.
The Grown Ups is told from the point of view of three major characters who grew up together in a neighborhood filled with children and families and drama. This is the kind of idyllic setting that would lead you to think there are perfect families behind all of the closed doors. But, you get a glimpse into dysfunctional marriages, illnesses and experiences that impact the development and maturation of the children in those neighborhoods. This is a story that shows how simple it is for several people to share similar, or even the same experiences, yet interpret them completely differently as they use their own filter and experiences to make sense of their worlds.
The hallmark of this book is the incredibly rich and deep characters that are built. You will fall in love with Sam, ache with Bella and share the joys and heartaches of Suzie. It’s a beautifully written book that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.
(I know that character development is there twice. It is really the highlight of the book and it’s really that good!)
Mrs. Spade died in the winter of their junior year of college and they all returned home for the funeral.
Bella had called from Vassar to tell Sam. He’d picked up the phone and heard his name and then nothing, just a rush of air across the wires followed by what sounded like a far away howling. Bella and Sam had continued, despite distance and any real commitment, to find their way back to each other. She surprised him first at school, showing up at his door, and they had fallen back onto his twin mattress as if they were starving. It felt exotic, somehow, to be in a place where no one knew them as a couple. To hold hands as they shared crummy food off Sam’s meal ticket at the dining hall, to drink dollar pitchers at The Rat, to wake up next to each other and have sex without talking, like they had the map of what they liked inked indelibly in their brains. By the time Sam’s roommate returned from his girlfriend’s place, the weekend ended, the buzz would wear off, and Sam would think they wouldn’t do it again. Until one of them showed up on the doorstep of the other’s room and it started up all over again. Sam thought this thing with Bella was casual, comfortable. They had never labeled what they were or talked about where it was going. He thought that was what they both wanted. Or maybe they were just too scared to bring it up. Sam liked things the way they were until something like this happened, and he had no idea how to act or what they meant to each other.
About the Author
Robin Antalek is the author of The Summer We Fell Apart. Her nonfiction writing has been published in literary journals and in several collections, including The Beautiful Anthology; Writing off Script: Writers on the Influence of Cinema; and The Weeklings: Revolution #1 Selected Essays 2012-1013. Her short fiction has appeared in 52 Stories, Five Chapters, Sun Dog, The Southeast Review, and Literary Mama among others. She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.