Author: Meg Wolitzer
Provided Synopsis: 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.
Review: I wish someone would explain to me what was so interesting about The Interestings. In my opinion, the members of this group formed at a teenage summer camp represent the many different personalities we will find in society. We all strive to live a certain life; some of us will reach a level of success from our dreams and some of us will struggle to come to terms with what we can do rather than what we want to do. The currency that will always bind us together, however, is that the reality of our lives will never be as satisfying as the dream.
All members of The Interestings have dreams they wish to strive towards, and the novel follows them as they age while trying to find their place in life. Being so close, some friends feel jealousy towards those who succeed, and others are never able to leave behind the traumas of childhood. Don’t we all experience this? Don’t we all know someone who experiences something like this? In this way the book was relatable, particularly to me as I struggle to reconcile my dreams to reality. It’s never going to be easy.
But on the other spectrum, what I disliked about this novel was that there was really no plot. Was the author trying to say that the main conflict for all of the characters (and essentially, her readers) was life, and how to best deal with what is handed to you? I’m not sure and would be interested in discussing that point. As a character-driven piece of fiction the reader is only allowed to follow the lives of these characters from the teenage-years to middle age. I think that could have been more effective if the characters had actually changed, rather than stay the same for the entirety of the novel. So what was the author’s reasoning for doing this? To say that we never change? After immediately finishing this novel I struggle to understand what the greater picture was…