I started to read the book and didn’t know a thing about what it was about, or even about the author. I just downloaded it to my Kindle and took it with me to the beach every single day. I couldn’t stop reading, I enjoyed every part of it.
The Interestings follows six friends from teenagehood until they hit their fifth decade. Jules Jacobson met the rest of the group -Ethan, Ash, Jonah, Goodman and Cathy- when she was fifteen, while spending her summer in a camp called Spirit in the Woods. Being from Underhill and not from New York City like the rest of them, Jules felt as if she didn’t fit in that group of people she admired. But at the end of the summer she gained enough confidence and felt like a completely different girl. In a way, she discovers the “importance” of being arty, creative, and so decides to become a funny actress. But life seemed to have different plans for her.
The story starts in the early seventies and ends in the present. It may seem hard to keep the audience attention for such a long period of time, but Wolitzer achieved it in the best way possible. How did she do it? Making the second and third chapter jump into the very future and then going back to the start of it all. That way, you really want to know how things got the way you saw on the future. But then, as the story goes by, everything seems to become a little more lineal and I started to miss those jumps in time that made it so much more interesting. Although the long anecdotes -that the author decided to tell in between a completely different time- kind of achieved a similar effect.
But what I most liked about the book is how I could totally feel identified with Jules and her fears. As a young woman just getting out of college, I think everyday of how my future will be and if things are going to go smoothly and the way I expected or not.
“I always thought it was the saddest and most devastating ending. How you could have these enormous dreams that never get met. How without knowing it you could just make yourself smaller over time. I don’t want that to happen to me”, Jules says to Ethan once. And that is exactly what I ask to myself all the time. Does it really matter if you end up doing what you always thought you’d do? Are we really better people for fulfilling our dreams or is it just luck? Are we less important of interesting for not being creative, arty or have a great skill?
That questions keep coming up as you read the astute writing of Wolitzer and you begin to love some of the characters deeply, as if they were really your friends. Every character represents, in a way, a completely different type of person. The way they were raised and the family tragedies they witnessed as young people made them become in what they’re as grown-ups. They struggle through life and they achieve things, but they also lose others. Every character is real, none is completely good or completely bad: all are human.
And then, when you finish the book, you close it and think: “Why did everyone made us think that we have to be talented and special? Is it really bad to be a normal person?” As a matter of fact, that is what most people in the world are. You just have to take the best out of regular things in life.
It is a story about envy and desire, a story of fears and lies, a story of never being completely fulfilled. A story about real love and apparent love. A story that made me really think about life, about myself and about those around me.
This wasn’t really a review, but I just wanted to share some of my ideas on the book. If you’re interested, you can read some “real” reviews here: