Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Interestings (Meg Wolitzer)

Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings is one of those books that get very differing opinions.  Some readers say that the characters are unlikeable so they don’t really care what happens to them very much.  It seems that you either become emotionally invested in these characters or you don’t -- there’s not much of an in-between.  I found The Interestings enthralling for about 90% of it, and then the unrealistic ending really let me down.

The Interestings are a group of friends who meet every summer at the Spirit-in-the-Woods camp.  It is here where they are free to be themselves, and when camp ends, it is understood that they are friends for life.  Readers see Jules, Ash, Ethan, Jonah, and the others grow up, get married, become successful (or not), and have children, and since they’ve “known” them since they were teenagers, it’s not difficult to root them on.  Wolitzer really spends the time developing each one of them, which is why a few events toward the end seemed like quite the cop-out to me.

However, the last few pages aren’t the be-all and end-all of The Interestings.  The best kind of realistic fiction novels are when readers can see themselves mirrored in the characters, and that’s precisely what tends to happen here.