Friday, May 22, 2015

#SRC2015 - The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Published: January 27, 2015
Pages: 304
Ages: 14+


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.


This book is about a group of "poor little rich kids" as they grow up and learn to adult. They come of age in the midst of infidelity, divorce, and alcoholism among their parents, which I think is basically the American dream right now. 

I was really expecting to be more interested in this book than I ended up being. According to Goodreads, the average reading time for this book is six hours and forty-one minutes. I felt like I was reading it for two days straight, with no breaks (there were breaks, but it still felt like I didn't take any.) At no point was I anxious to continue reading to find out what happened next and I even willingly put my kindle down to clean house and I use pretty much every excuse under the sun to put off housework for as long as humanly possible. 

I found most of the characters to be forgettable, I can't keep Frankie and Peter straight and I can't even remember most of the girls names and I just finished reading the book. There were no real seemingly insurmountable conflicts for the characters to overcome, and the biggest worry they faced was having to ask daddy for money to pay rent while living in the city. There were two sad moments in their adult-ish lives, but discussing those would involve spoilers, so I won't. Because of these things, I never felt anxious for the characters or really connected to them at all. I just really felt like there was no driving force for the story. 

There were also a few other details in the story that ended up bugging me, one in particular that really got to me and led to me ranting to my husband about how absurd the situation was, but discussing it here would just lead to a rant so I'll just say that it was completely unrealistic in a story filled with realism. 

Overall I give this book 2 out of 5 stars because it was structurally sound, but otherwise it just didn't do it for me. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

After making a career out of changing careers, from PR to tending bar, and from waitressing to managing a modern dance company, Robin Antalek eventually gave in to the voices in her head and began writing fiction. She studied at The New York State Writer's Institute at the State University of New York at Albany, and has published in many literary journals: Sun Dog: The Southeast Review, Literary Mama, among others, and has twice been a finalist in Glimmer Train's Family Matters contests as well as a finalist for The Tobias Wolf Award for Short Fiction. You can also find her nonfiction essays monthly on the web at The Nervous Breakdown.
The Summer We Fell Apart is her first novel. She lives in a very needy Victorian house in Saratoga Springs, New York, with her husband, two daughters, and three dogs.

Other Books by Robin Antalek

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