This book by Meg Wolitzer was another on the Time Best of Books for 2013. I had attempted to read it before, but I really think it was right after I finished a nameless book about a wealthy family who owns their own island up around Maine-ish, so that when I started this book, I thought, “Oh dammit, not another book about pretentious, selfish, wealthy bastards.” So…I shut the book and that was that. Except…I am on a mission to read all ten of the books on that Time Magazine list, and I lack this one and another one. Well, whats a girl to do – I HAD to read this book.
I am quite content that I did read this book. Oh, it’s not my favorite of the year, and actually, I’d only give it four-stars right now (typically, after I think about it, my stars will go up). This story tells the story of six teenagers who meet at an artsy, schmartsy summer camp. Julie is an unlikely addition to the group and always wonders why she was included in their camp meeting that night in the teepee; Julie becomes Jules and feels as if she belongs. Jules was invited by her roommate, Ash, whose brother, Goodman, is part of the group. They are dreamlike creatures in their wealth in beauty, but (as is always the case) all is not what it seems with them. Jonah, son of a folk musician; Cathy, a dancer with big boobs; and Ethan, something of a nerd with artistic ability. Honestly, the opening chapter and description of these teens at camp made me think of a bad 80’s slasher flick, but it was intriguing, a moment of recognition.
The book is epic in the sense of all the decades it crosses. I typically do not like books set in the 70’s (don’t ask, no clue) but this one was done well, with just enough drops of history spread through the decades to make one go, “Ah, I remember that,” or “Ah, I remember my parents talking about that.” They move along through the 80’s and the AIDS crisis, the onto the 90’s (what defined the 90’s anyway?), and into the 2000’s and the terrible attacks on the WTC. Along the way, some terrible events occur personally to the group of friends and they cling to each other to make it through. Jules is not always a likeable character, but the other characters redeem Jules, since they love her so much.
Great book, I did have a brief book hangover when I finished.