All Grown Up Review
I'm fairly certain that, judging by some of the other reviews of All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg, I am not the sort-of woman most would expect to be giving this book a 4 star review. Let me explain.
First off, I am a mother of two and spent the vast majority of my adult years at home raising my children. I didn't have a paying job outside of the home until my children had been in school for years. And I loved it. Did I love every single minute of it?? Of course not, but I was more than happy to be allowed what I felt was a privilege to spend so much time with my munchkins.
The second factor would have to be that I married my high school sweetheart, and we are still happily (or at least I like to think happily) married after almost 24 years. I still get a little twitterpated when I see him, and God forbid he come see me at work...I turn into a giggling mess. But don't get me wrong, we have had a very real marriage, full of the ups and downs you would expect from people who have been together since before they were able to operate motor vehicles.
And last of the obvious issues would be the fact that, although my blog name clearly reflects my love of cocktail hour, I can state without fear of a comments section declaring otherwise that I have lived my adult life steering clear of recreational drugs. I don't scream it out in every post, but my husband is in the military and I work on a military installation at the moment. Those just don't lend themselves to a life reminiscent of the mom from Weeds. I'm certainly not a prude, but my extracurriculars have been strictly limited to libations.
So now we get to the nitty gritty of this review. I really enjoyed reading All Grown Up. This small (197 pages) book is basically filled with short anecdotal stories in the life of Andrea, a 40-something unapologetic woman bucking the trends of life that she feels are expected of her. The timeline hops all over the place, and it's written in small vignettes with no real plot...just a lot of one woman's messy life.
This book did not read how I thought it would, and I think the blurbs on Goodreads and Amazon actually did it a disservice. I didn't find it humorous really. To market it as "wickedly funny" just doesn't sit right with me. This book was smart and intellectual...and gritty. The main character Andrea wasn't prettified for the public. She let it all hang out, whether you liked it or not.
Now I started this review the way I did because most of the positive reviews I've read were from women who saw themselves in Andrea from a very obvious standpoint. They were from single women. Women who weren't interested in marriage, just like Andrea. Women who had chosen to never have children, just like Andrea. Women for whom casual sex and drug use didn't seem all that out of the norm. The negative reviews were from people who you would think I shared more in common with. Women who couldn't believe that this fictitious character blatantly states that she does NOT like kids, and never wants to have them. Women who were disgusted by a woman who doesn't beat herself up a whole lot for dabbling in recreational drugs and having sex with a man she doesn't plan on making breakfast for in the morning. They just couldn't see themselves in her, and were so blatantly turned off by this woman that they vehemently tossed this poor book aside and gave it 1 star.
I loved it. You may not look at me and see it, but I could relate to some of the internal dialogue that Author Attenberg so unselfconsciously gives to the character Andrea. A coworker recently told me that for someone who appeared to have their shit together, I sure read a lot of self-help books. Let me tell you folks, internally...my shit ain't together. 😄 I go through periods of it, but I am definitely a work in progress. And although the character wasn't really searching for any form of resolution to a problem or issue, we share the internal self-analyzing gene of people who have maybe never learned how to properly turn their brains off.
And even if I couldn't find a single thing I could relate to...not an ounce of this character that I could see myself in...I would still find it a fascinating book. Because I'm a firm believer in reading about characters that open your eyes to something different from the reality that you live on a day to day basis. It's one of the wonders of literature. Books give you the ability to put your feet in someone else's shoes.
I also feel I should add that I wouldn't be making these arguments if it was written badly.
So, I'm giving All Grown Up 4 Stars on Goodreads. And when I read the authors tweets that come from such a vastly different place than mine are coming from, I will smile because it just makes my day a little more interesting.
Do you prefer to read about people who are similar to you?? Or are you open to reading about characters who are vastly different, with different morals or backgrounds?? I'd love to hear your thoughts either in the comments here or over on my Facebook page! It's the last day of National Library Week...and I managed to post every day of the work week!! Yippee!! Don't forget to keep showing your support for your local library. It's important now more than ever...