Friday, April 29, 2016

I'm the one who makes you laugh when you know you're about to cry.

Modern LoversModern Lovers by Emma Straub

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Zoe, Andrew, and Elizabeth have been friends since their college days at Oberlin. Back then, they were part of a band with their fourth friend, Lydia. Now the first three are nearing fifty, living in the same New York suburban neighborhood. Zoe resides with her wife, Jane, and their daughter Ruby. Meanwhile, Andrew and Elizabeth, now married, have a teenage son, Harry. The friends have been together through thick and thin, but things are starting to get a bit more difficult as they face the trials of aging. Zoe isn't sure if her marriage is going to hold, while Elizabeth is struggling with issues of her own. And Andrew, well, is Andrew going through some sort of midlife crisis? The three friends must confront their past (and some well-kept secrets) as well as deal with their future, including their growing (and rapidly maturing) offspring.

I wasn't one of those who adored Straub's previous novel, The Vacationers, though I liked it, but this one sounded interesting and worth a try. And, in its defense, it was. It receives bonus points immediately for having lesbian characters who are simply part of the fabric of the novel (what, lesbians simply living regular life? surely not!). Straub's characters are crisp and well-defined. They are also a bit "New Yorky" and fall into that bucket that I so often find of whiny, self-involved New Yorkers. Andrew, in particular, though I suppose that is perhaps the entire point of Andrew. Still, overall, I found the book witty and wise. The younger protagonists--Ruby and Harry--in particular, offer fresh and fun voices. They are teenagers, after all: they are allowed to be self-involved! This was a quick read; it's engaging, fun, and occasionally sweet, even if it causes you to roll your eyes from time to time. 3.5 stars overall.

I received a copy of this novel from Edelweiss (thank you!); it is available for publication everywhere on 5/31/2016.

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