The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer checks all of my favorite literary boxes: beautiful, easily consumable writing; flawed characters; and a healthy amount of introspection and nostalgia. When all these elements combine with the plot – the changing dynamic of friendships that span a lifetime – I was no more than a kitten lapping up whatever Wolitzer wanted to throw my way.
It is at a camp for the arts, during the summer of Nixon’s resignation, where Jules Jacobson meets Ethan, Ash, Goodman, Jonah, and Cathy. They are young and sure of their own importance, their lives spotless sheets of possibility before them. They spend their days creating art and their nights surreptitiously smoking weed in the boys’ tent, desperately trying to make each other laugh. Bound forever by a shared childhood and inside jokes, Jules’s relationships with her camp friends persist and shift through all the changes college and adulthood bring.
Though the plot may be simple, Wolitzer doesn’t shy away from all the complications and messiness of life. She delves headfirst into issues of class, luck, money, creativity, jealousy, and the nuance of friendship. This isn’t a tear-through-the-pages read; it’s a steady, thoughtful exploration of the choices that take us from our past to our present and the people we’re lucky enough to encounter along the way.
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