The Interestings follows a group of 6 friends who meet at a camp called spirit-in-the-woods for teens who are interested in the arts in the 1970s and we follow them into very late adulthood. This group of friends includes: Jules, Ash, Ethan, Jonah, Goodman and Cathy — But the story truly follows Jules, Ash, Ethan and Jonah. Most of the people in their little group are pretty privileged and they already know each other. Jules is new at the camp and doesn’t have as much as her friends (money-wise) and she is insecure about that. It’s something that never changes about her even in old age. But by some stroke of luck she ends up getting in with this group and one day they decide to ironically call themselves The Interestings.
This is definitely a slow-burn kind of book that focuses more on the characters than plot. I can’t really pinpoint WHY I like this book. If someone told me they thought this book was boring I wouldn’t be able to argue because I can see that point of view. But something about this book really drew me in. I was hooked, but honestly, the more I think about these characters, the more I dislike them. Particularly Jules, Ash and Ethan. There’s a particular event that happens in the book that spurs a lot of that dislike but I won’t disclose what that is. Even though I don’t like the characters, it doesn’t make me dislike the book because I think they are authentic characters. I feel like people like these and relationships like these could and do exist. I believe them so it doesn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the book.
The Interestings explores childhood dreams as opposed to where you actually end up in life. Spirit-in-the-woods is a camp for the arts so everyone who went there had dreams of doing something artistic with their lives. Some succeeded in that and some ended up having “regular” lives. Because of this you have jealousy and insecurity rearing their ugly heads because some are struggling money-wise while others have everything they need and more. Some have succeeded in colossal ways in their professions while some are doing jobs they never wanted to do and hardly making ends meet. Wolitzer’s authentic portrayal of this type of friendship dynamic impressed me.
You know how when you think back to Elementary School and in your memories you remember the school being huge. But when you go back as an adult you realize how small it actually was. This book makes me think of that. When Jules was a teenager at spirit-in-the-woods, she made a really good group of friends and had some great times. I think in the book she mentioned that that was the time when she started to feel alive and she didn’t want it to end. Even into her late adulthood she would think fondly about those times at spirit-in-the-woods when she became an Interesting. When you’re a kid things look bigger and sparklier and you feel things so much more intensely. Coming to terms with the fact that what you thought were the best bits of your life probably weren’t as great as you remember them to be is hard. And that’s what hit me the most about this book.
I will be rating this 4 stars, but I think it’s a little better than that. More like 4.25 stars, but I don’t have a graphic for that, haha. Overall, I really liked this book and would recommend it to people who don’t mind a slower, more character-driven kind of book.
Sidenote: Amazon Prime has a pilot episode up for The Interestings. It is up against another show and I suppose they will pick up the show that is more liked and make more episodes? I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but just wanted to put that info out there in case anyone was interested!
The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed.
In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge. The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence.