‘The Interestings’ by Meg Wolitzer live up to their name


“The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.

The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.

Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.”

Why should you read this book?

I have that familiar feeling that I should postpone writing this review because I’m still hooked on this novel. Perhaps I will miss out on something or my ideas won’t be too clear. But I cannot wait any longer. I must write down my thoughts immediately. I’ll try to keep it brief and avoid spoilers though. 

First of all, I’ve heard of Meg Wolitzer before but I’ve never read anything written by her until now. This makes The Interestings my first Wolitzer’s novel, so I can’t really compare this literary work to the previous ones. But hey! while I’m eagerly awaiting for The Female Persuasion, which is expected to be released in 2018, I have the time to read other Wolitzer’s works or just beg that someone miraculously sends me an ARC.  Nonetheless, I can say that The Interestings is a must-read.

The premise of this novel is quite simple and common: six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts sign up for eternal friendship. Insecure and young, they fall in love with each other’s idiosyncrasies and minds. Four of them will remain friends for decades, dealing with ambition, failure, success, fear, love and sadness. They are The Interestings, after all. There’s also a major scandal that will never be solved that has affected the entire group.

I believe that one of the things that makes this one my best reads of this year is the complexity of the characters. I’ve always loved Russian literature, because it’s a sort of a research on the human’s mind. It perfectly show us how complex, distorted and flawed we can be. In The Interestings no one is completely good or bad. That would be very irrealistic. They all have moments of strength and weakness, times of beauty and ugliness.

Some readers described this book as boring because, according to them, it’s basically five hundred pages of nothing. What they failed to realize is that The Interestings aren’t interesting due to the things they do, but because of what they think, feel and are. If I were to choose the leitmotiv of this novel, I would use the word ‘abuse’. They feel jealous about their friends; they struggle to love and be loved; they abandon their loved ones when they’re truly needed; they use their power over their friends to obtain what they seek. And, of course, there’s the rape scene.

Alongside with that, I would emphasize that this novel is very well-written and allowed me to imagine. I was always thinking: this should be turned into a movie or a series. As a result of that, I’ve made my own research and found out that Amazon had plans to create a TV series based on The Interestings. The company even produced and released the pilote episode; however it was cancelled/discontinued.

Another interesting thing about this novel’s narrative is that Wolitzer jumps back and forth in time and characters storyline, which I really liked because it forced me to be vigilant and I remain motivated.

I cannot wait for Wolitzer’s next novel. 

“And specialness – everyone wants it. But Jesus, is it the most essential thing there is? Most people aren’t talented. So what are they supposed to do – kill themselves?”

Book details:
English Edition
Publisher: Vintage – Penguin Random House
Published on: April 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 480
Price: £8.99

Edição Portuguesa:
Editora: Teorema
Data de Publicação: Setembro de 2014
Formato: Capa mole
Páginas: 592
Preço: 24,90€




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