Some days I don't feel like a grown up at all but then having two kids remind me they need lunch money like, three days ago, snaps you right back to reality and you realize that you absolutely are a grown up and you have no idea how you actually got here.
The Grown Up's - Robin Antalek
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.
I loved this book. I really did. Normally there's at least something I didn't like about one of the characters or how it was written when a book spans across so much time and gives you the point of view of several characters. The really great thing is that even though you may not have dedicated points of view of a lot of the characters, Robin Antalek writes so incredibly well that you know these characters. You get it. You get what they feel, why they are doing the things they are doing, and it's like you actually know these people and you've grown up right with them.
The story is mainly about Sam, who after falling into a boyhood lust with Suzie, kind of finds himself adrift in life. Suzie moved away when they were still in high school bu can read more abut not without revealing something kind of catastrophic to a teenage boy. Not only that, Sam's mother abruptly leaves him, his brother, and his father behind and so while reeling from Suzie's departure, he's now dealing with his mother's unexplained escape. Sam's older brother goes to college and Sam... well he kind of makes it. He finds himself in a relationship with Bella, one of Suzie's best friends, and though it's a comfortable, predictable, and non-demanding relationship, it's also not as exciting as what he had with Suzie. Though he'll never know for sure if what he felt for Suzie was reciprocated, he's not sure what to do with any of it. And then when Bella's mom dies, Suzie unexpectedly returns for the funeral.
Easily, one of the best lines out of the book was this:
"They were here now, all of them. Relationships slightly rearranged, but still together. That was more than any of them would have imagined years before. They had watched their parents stumble and vowed never to do the same, only to fail one another in different ways. They experienced love, but they also caused disappointment and sorrow. They felt fear, and they knew loss. They ran away, only to return."
I mean, can't we all relate to that in some way? The great thing about this book is that every single character goes through something that we have all been in. Marriage, divorce, death, financial problems, college woes, feeling unsuccessful and unsure in life, Feeling like a disappointment and confused when your parents don't regard you as such. Watching parents age, and then sometimes die and questioning if you had been good enough of a kid all along, if you should be doing more, but also being afraid to do more because it makes their impending loss from life seem more real.
I'll be honest, it was a bit of a slow go at first. I thought immediately I was going to hate some of the characters, but then I got hooked. I think it was right after Bella's mom died because I could empathize with how she felt as her mother was dying and then how she felt immediately after. And then, I just fell in love. If you are someone who has life long friends, maybe they come and go in your life, but you know that no matter what, they'll always be back- this is definitely a book for you.
You can read more about Robin on her website or on her Facebook page. This review is part of a blog tour and you can see what other bloggers are saying on the TLC Book Tours page. But if you want to skip all that, and just buy the book, you can do that at Amazon, IndieBound, and Barnes & Noble.