Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: May 31st, 2016
Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.
Back in the band’s heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adults’ lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed.
First things first, a HUGE thank you to Riverhead Books for allowing me the privilege of reviewing this book! Riverhead is one of my favorite publishers, and they’ve published some amazing books, including:
Of these, I am the most excited for The Regional Office is Under Attack! I’ve heard so many wonderful things and cannot wait to read it! Seven Brief Lessons on Physics has the most stunning cover I think I’ve ever seen. So so so many great things from Riverhead! They have a really kick ass Bookstagram account as well. If you’re interested, you can follow them @riverheadbooks.
Let’s talk about Modern Lovers!
I went into reading Modern Lovers not knowing anything about it, which is really rare for me. I normally do a lot of research before reading a book, especially considering the size of my TBR. I made an exception in this case because I’ve seen it all over Bookstagram and my fellow bibliophiles seemed to really dig it. This is the first of Emma Straub’s books that I’ve had a chance to read, and I really enjoyed it!
It should be known that I read this book in less than 24 hours. Every time I had to put it down, I found myself coming back to it as quickly as I could. It wasn’t particularly suspenseful, but the characters were so engaging, and the writing so enjoyable that I couldn’t stay away for long.
As always, I’ll be getting into more detail after the jump (no major spoilers in this one). Please read at your own discretion!
Modern Lovers is set in Brooklyn, and tells the story of four adult friends, Elizabeth & Andrew and Jane & Zoe, who were friends and bandmates in college. The book opens a few decades after their college years; both couples have gotten married and had children, but are still close friends, living very near to each other. The story is told through the shifting narratives of the adult characters, as well as through their children, Zoe and Harry. The differing perspectives between parent and child created an interesting, and oftentimes humorous juxtaposition.
I really enjoyed how realistically their friendships were portrayed so many years later. Having close friends as a married adult with children is TOUGH. There is so much going on, and it’s so easy to get wrapped up in your own family, and forget to make time for the people outside of it. This struggle is a reality for Elizabeth and Zoe, and is putting a strain on their relationships both with each other, and with their spouses. Straub navigates these issues so expertly, and I particularly enjoyed seeing their friendship evolve and mature throughout the course of the story.
Because I went into this book blind, I was so pleasantly surprised to find a lesbian couple making up two of the main characters. It has been incredibly difficult to find any sort of representation in mainstream media, and I normally only see relationships like mine portrayed in fan fiction. To make things even better, Zoe and Jane are not just lady lovers, but two women who are married to one another and have a child. In the story, they are going through marital issues of their own, and have to figure out how to find their way back to each other.
Moderns Lovers is really about relationships and how they transform as we grow and change, and enter different periods of our lives. These characters meet when they are young, free, and impressionable, and now find themselves trying to piece their adult selves together in a cohesive way. Strab touches on so many types of relationships; friendship, marriage, parenthood, co workers, and each one has so many beautiful and realistic qualities.
Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book! I think Straub writes really sturdy, believable characters that are immensely easy to relate to. This book will also make you feel better about whatever you’ve got going on in your own life! Some of the predicaments these characters find themselves in are ridiculous, and some are very sad. The one thing they all have in common is how real they are. I’ll definitely be picking up more of Straub’s work. This book will be an excellent summer read, and would be perfect to pack for a vacation or to read by the pool. It hits stores on May 31st, so be sure to pick up a copy!
Favorite Characters: Elizabeth, Jane, Harry
I’ll have to update this section after the book comes out, since I reviewed an advanced copy. I will say that this was my first experience using a Kindle, and my highlight feature got a lot of use while reading this book. I can’t wait to share some of my favorites with you guys!