I wish I could say that The Interestings was an interesting book, but honestly I found it be lackluster at best. As I turned pages I kept asking myself, “Why am I still reading this?” The answer to that lies in Meg Wolitzer’s command of the english language. Although I can honestly say that I didn’t enjoy this book, I can also admit that I enjoyed the way Wolitzer turns a phrase, crafts a sentence, and expands on an idea. Unfortunately, none of that managed to make this novel about gifted children who grow up to be jaded, ordinary adults stand out. It’s long, slow, and very bitter. I found myself constantly thinking that if real life was actually as bleak and dreary as her novels protagonists make it out to be, I wouldn’t be able to stand it. Luckily, I’ve found that while life has its ups and downs, it is not such a petty and deceitful place as The Interestings would have me believe.
Despite being named “The Best Book of the Year” last year by Entertainment Weekly and Time, this is a trite story, focusing on a group of friends who meet at an art summer camp and decide to dub themselves “The Interestings” in a sort of ironic-hipster-cool fashion. As they grow up, some of them make it big, while the bulk of them are forced to give up their dreams and lead drab and dull lives.
I found Ash, one of the two who goes on to actually make it in the art world, lacking in depth, while Jules, the other main female protagonist, was pathetic, annoying, and very very shallow. Ethan, the other member of the “dream duo,” was the only character I liked even a little, and he was still a lying, semi-pathetic character. He spends his entire life married to a woman he doesn’t really love, all while pining after the woman he does, who is never interested in him, and spends the novel jealous of his opulent lifestyle. It’s sickening. Which of course, is probably the point. Either way, this was certainly not my cup of metaphorical tea.
I will say, just so I don’t feel I’m being unfair, that I think Wolitzer is an incredible writer, and I’d be interested in giving her work another go. I just need to be more careful about the subject matter before I pick the next one up.
Rating: 2.7/5 stars
Overall Reaction: “I should stop reading this.” Turns page. Turns another page. Several Chapters later: “No, really, I should stop.”