March 13, 2015

The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek is a coming of age story about three characters who start off as teenagers in the story and become grown-ups. See how their relationships change, the type of people they grow up to be, and much more.

Book Description
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.” – The Grown Ups

My Thoughts
The Grown Ups spans over a decade and alternates between characters. For some readers, this may not be enjoyable because this method of storytelling isn’t for everyone. However, I think that the author did a very good job with the time spanned out to convey the message of the story. She also alternated between characters in a seamless way, which not all authors who do this can do well. I applaud her use of this because it does tell the story in a way that only seeing it through one of the characters just couldn’t do.

This is a well told coming of age story that takes teenagers into adulthood, and shows how relationships can fall apart, and some grow stronger. Growing up isn’t just about blowing out candles on your birthday each year, but the events and emotional growth that occurs in-between. This story shows just how true that is. It isn’t overly dramatic or too far-fetched to make the story unrealistic, which makes it that much more interesting, at least for me. The characters were well formed, and Sam, Suzie, and Bella each seemed like they could be people we could know in real life, or perhaps even recognize some aspects of their lives in our own.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel and look forward to seeing more of what the author writes. I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a good read.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Grown Ups, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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