A National Bestseller
“I read it twice, laughing, cringing, and even tearing up.” — Judy Blume, New York Times
“Powerful . . . All Grown Up is so intimately [and] sharply observed.” — Vogue
“Bravo to Attenberg, who, with hilarity and honesty, tells the story of an adult woman who wants what she wants, not what she’s supposed to want.” — Marie Claire
Who is Andrea Bern? When her dippy therapist asks the question, Andrea knows the right things to say: she’s a designer, a friend, a daughter, a sister. But it’s what she leaves unsaid—she’s alone, a drinker, a former artist, a shrieker in bed, captain of the sinking ship that is her flesh—that feels the most true. Everyone around her seems to have a different idea of what it means to be an adult, though. But when Andrea’s niece finally arrives, born with a heartbreaking ailment, the Bern family is forced to reexamine what really matters. Will this drive them together or tear them apart? Told in gut-wrenchingly honest, mordantly comic vignettes, All Grown Up is a breathtaking display of Jami Attenberg’s powers as a storyteller and a whip-smart examination of one woman’s life, lived entirely on her own terms.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Like the grooves of a record, the stories we tell about ourselves tend to loop back to the same old songs. Andrea, the protagonist of Jami Attenberg’s jazzy short novel, draws us into her life story through wry retellings of dead-end dates, throwaway conversations, exchanges in the therapist’s office, and moments of sharp self-reckoning. Andrea’s storylines circle back to key traumas in her family’s story, creating a real sense of intimacy. It’s like talking to a friend over the years, hearing those familiar refrains punctuated by beautiful blasts of discovery.
Attenberg's (Saint Mazie) new novel is a bildungsroman with a twist, adapting a coming-of-age narrative to a protagonist who is not as young as her immaturity sometimes suggests. In her 30s, New Yorker Andrea Bern is a gifted artist whose talents don't quite extend to mastering adulthood as those around her understand it. While her friends dedicate themselves to building families or careers and her brother and sister-in-law cope with a terminally ill child, Andrea seems stuck in a holding pattern. She abandons the art making she loves, clings to a dead-end job, and embraces drinking and rote sexual encounters; though not making much headway, she sees a therapist for nearly a decade in an attempt to grapple with inner wounds, notably the overdose death of her musician father in the family apartment when she was 13. The novel's darkly comic voice is a delight to read, capturing Andrea's sharp insights as well as her self-destructiveness, while brief chapters that shift back and forth in time effectively convey both the chaos and the stasis of her personal landscape.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I finished this book in one day. Seriously, I read the sample Tuesday night, purchased it Wednesday morning and finished it that evening. My ONLY complaint is that it ended at all. Highly recommend.
Not ready to let go
Very clever book. I laughed, I cried, I cringed. I felt like I was NYC. I didn’t want it to end.
Came back to write the review, already forgot the book
I think that summarizes it.
I stuck with the book, but it didn’t stick with me.