“It’s ‘Friends’ meets ‘Almost Famous’ meets the beach read you’ll be recommending all summer.” –TheSkimm
From the author of the New York Times bestsellers All Adults Here and This Time Tomorrow, a smart, highly entertaining novel about a tight-knit group of friends from college— and what it means to finally grow up, well after adulthood has set in.
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 adult 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.
Straub packs wisdom and insight and humor together in a satisfying book about neighbors and nosiness, ambition and pleasure, the excitement of youth, the shock of middle age, and the fact that our passions—be they food, or friendship, or music—never go away, they just evolve and grow along with us.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Like the best kind of indie movie, Modern Lovers invites us into the lives of a group of quirky and neurotic characters that are really fun to hang out with. The novel centers around two Brooklyn couples—Andrew and Elizabeth, Zoe and Jane—and their teenage offspring: dutiful, sweet Harry and firecracker Ruby. Andrew, Elizabeth, and Zoe share a complicated history as ex-band members and Zoe and Jane are considering a divorce. Emma Straub’s writing crackles—she shifts nimbly and thoughtfully between perspectives and presents her characters’ transgressions with sly humor and a big heart. We gobbled it up.
Back in the 1980s at Oberlin College, in Ohio, Elizabeth, Andrew, Zoe, and Lydia had a band called Kitty's Mustache. Elizabeth wrote a song called "Mistress of Myself"; Lydia sang it and made it famous, but she died of a heroin overdose at age 27. Two decades later, Elizabeth and Andrew are married and have a son, Harry. Living nearby in Brooklyn's Ditmas Park neighborhood are Zoe and her wife, Jane, with their daughter, Ruby. They own a neighborhood restaurant called Hyacinth. Midlife crises are roiling both marriages: Zoe and Jane are considering divorce; Andrew, the scion of wealthy parents, has never held a meaningful job and is now bemoaning his failure to find fulfillment, and Elizabeth sells real estate in Ditmas and feels responsible for everyone. To further complicate matters, teenagers Harry and Ruby suddenly discover sex. Into this volatile mix comes a Hollywood producer who's making a movie about Lydia and urgently needs the former band members to sign over their rights to the iconic song. Straub (The Vacationers) spins her lighthearted but psychologically perceptive narrative with a sure touch as she captures the vibes of midlife, middle-class angst and the raging hormones of youth. Straub excels in establishing a sense of place: the narrative could serve as a map to gentrified Brooklyn; it's that detailed and visually clear. Events move at a brisk pace, and surprises involving resurgent passion enliven the denouement. Readers will devour this witty and warmly satisfying novel.
I enjoyed the story line but character development took too long to develop. The book left me with a lot of questions that the author should have answered. Unfortunately nothing captured my attention ...there was nothing that kept me wanting to continue to read. It was a fine summer read but am excited to move on to my next book.
I wanted to move to Ditmas to be around Emma’s characters. A comfortable read.
This book was a sllooww read. The story dragged, wasn’t very original or thought provoking and finally goes somewhere after about 68 chapters. A lot of details about Brooklyn in it. A better use of time to just get a Brooklyn guidebook.