The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
Riverhead • $27.95 • ISBN 9781594488399
Published April 9
Meet the Interestings: Jules Jacobson (aspiring comedic actress), Ash Wolf (aspiring playwright and director), Cathy Kiplinger (aspiring ballet dancer), Goodman Wolf (aspiring architect), Ethan Figman (aspiring animator) and Jonah Bay (aspiring guitarist). When we are introduced to this tight-knit group, they're teens attending a prestigious arts camp called Spirit-in-the-Woods, and it's the summer of 1974.
The Interestings follows these six friends from adolescence through middle age. Some find great success in their art, while others don't. From this dynamic pops some of the most vivid, unique and well-rounded characters I've ever read. This absorbing study of how friendships evolve over time—and are impacted by art, success, jealousy and money—is a true page-turner, nearly impossible to put down.
Here's an excerpt—the first couple of paragraphs of the book—to lure you in. And, if you do find yourself interested in The Interestings, then be sure to check out Meg Wolitzer's Behind the Book essay about what inspired her to write the book.
On a warm night in early July of that long-evaporated year, the Interestings gathered for the very first time. They were only fifteen, sixteen, and they began to call themselves the name with tentative irony. Julie Jacobson, an outsider and possibly even a freak, had been invited in for obscure reasons, and now she sat in a corner on the upswept floor and attempted to position herself so she would appear unobtrusive yet not pathetic, which was a difficult balance. The teepee, designed ingeniously though built cheaply, was airless on nights like this one, when there was no wind to push in through the screens. Julie Jacobson longed to unfold a leg or do the side-to-side motion with her jaw that sometimes set off a gratifying series of tiny percussive sounds inside her skull. But if she called attention to herself in any way now, someone might start to wonder why she was here; and really, she knew, she had no reason to be here at all. It had been miraculous when Ash Wolf had nodded to her earlier in the night at the row of sinks and asked if she wanted to come join her and some of the others later. Some of the others. Even that word was thrilling. . . .
That night, though, long before the shock and the sadness and the permanence, as they sat in Boys' Teepee 3, their clothes bakery sweet from the very last washer-dryer loads at home, Ash Wolf said, "Every summer we sit here like this. We should call ourselves something."
"Why?" said Goodman, her older brother. "So the world can know just how unbelievably interesting we are?"
"We could be called the Unbelievably Interesting Ones," said Ethan Figman. "How's that?"
"The Interestings," said Ash. "That works."
So it was decided.
What about you, readers? Which book is impossible for you to put down this week?