Monday, July 18, 2016

Love, Friendship and Sex Between Teenagers...

I checked out Modern Lovers by Emma Straub mainly because the cover caught my eye. There...I said it...I judged a book by it's cover.
I had seen it on quite a few "New Must Read" book lists, and I had enjoyed her book The Vacationers, so in my book bag it went. Can I just go on a tangent for a sec, and say how much I enjoy when author's put the whole "author of" thing on the cover of a new book? I have mentioned before that my retention is horrendous (part of why I am writing a book blog) so I am a chronic failure at remembering what author wrote what book. So along with the whole "cool cover" thing, if it also states a book whose title I can remember, I am sold.

Okay, now to try and make myself sound a little less air-heady and shallow.

I think this book hovers in the 3 1/2 to 4 star area, so I'm going for 4 on Goodreads (what can I say, I'm in a generous mood!). It's a 353 page fairly easy read, set in modern day Brooklyn...although there are quite a few flashbacks to the characters time back at Oberlin College in Ohio as teens.

The book centers on Andrew, Elizabeth and Zoe, friends since they were in a band together in college...all of them in their 50's now.  Elizabeth and Andrew are married and have a son Harry, who is about to be a Senior in high school.  They live a few houses down from Zoe...who is married to Jane, and they have a daughter Ruby who just graduated. The narrative bounces between those 6 characters, although I would also say their neighborhood in Brooklyn is a character in itself.

Andrew comes from a wealthy family, and has basically been wandering aimlessly through off his family's money, Elizabeth's earnings as a realtor...and the money made from the ONE song that their ex-bandmate got famous on. He is almost a walking cliché of a midlife crisis. Instead of getting a job, he becomes obsessed with a new yoga studio in their neighborhood...that screamed trouble to me from the moment he set foot in it. Oh, and trying to keep Elizabeth from signing over their life rights to a movie studio making a flick about that ex-bandmate with the hit song. He was my least favorite character, coming a little ahead of Ruby.

Elizabeth is to me the central character...a little too obsessive in her friendship with Zoe, never feeling quite worthy of her attention. But a good mother to Harry, and her cat Iggy Pop...a good real estate agent, and a great songwriter...although she only piddles with her guitar in the garage anymore. She spends most of the book reacting to the events happening with the other characters, but I liked her.

Zoe was the cool girl that had people falling all over relationship after relationship until she met Jane, and fell in love. The two run a successful restaurant together, and live in her parents old place that once housed their entire gang in their 20's. She is bored and disgruntled, and can't decide if she is happily married or if she should get a divorce. Jane is still madly in love with Zoe, and shows her affection through food.

Ruby is basically a butthole teenager, with no plans and a major chip on her shoulder. She is one of the cool kids, who bombed her college applications and SAT's just because...and starts sleeping with Harry, who idolizes her, basically out of boredom and because she thinks his naivete is cute. He is a good kid...she gets him in trouble, and the parents aren't happy with their relationship AT ALL.

This book is FILLED with midlife crisis. The kids getting older and sleeping together just makes the main characters feel old, and they all start losing it a little bit.

I enjoyed this book...but it didn't really cover any new ground. I had a good idea where it was going, and it didn't surprise me. Plus I really didn't like Andrew or Ruby. But...I think it would be a good beach read. One that you don't have to pay an incredible amount of attention to, but still find enjoyable. It won't be making my favorites list, but I like the idea of a book about the dynamics in friendships that have been around for over 2 decades. I have a few friends that I've known for that long, and it's interesting how the relationships evolve...and if you're lucky they'll stand the test of time.

Do you have any favorite "Beach Reads"...not exactly guilty pleasure books, but lightly entertaining ones? Lord knows I haven't made it to a beach yet this year, but I still enjoy a good lighthearted summer read. Let me know in the comments, or over on my Facebook page. And don't forget that you can subscribe to the blog, and get it delivered right to your inbox! The height of convenience. :)

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