The Adults by Alison Espach
Touchstone • $25 • ISBN 9781439292859
on sale February 1, 2011

Alison Espach's debut novel has been getting some major attention from writers like Aryn Kyle and Stefan Merrill Block. Early reviews compare the book to Tom Perrotta's Little Children, and Espach's trenchant observations on suburbia, made through the eyes of 14-year-old Emily Vidal, definitely recall Perotta's style.

The novel opens on a garden party, which the Vidals are throwing as scheduled despite announcing to Emily only that morning that they would be divorcing. Emily's biggest interest at the party is Mark Resnick, her neighbor and longtime crush, who shows up with his mother.

Mark was fourteen going on twenty. I knew this better than anyone. I tracked his growth daily. His arms were thicker by the month. His legs became logs instead of sticks. He had cut the sleeves off most of his shirts, started to read books by Tom Wolfe, books his father read, Lonesome Dove, Ulysses. . . .

There were so many amazing new developments.

His hands were opening jars for me weekly. I watched with fascination, or maybe it was frustration, not sure my weakness was good or bad. Either way, I was slowly devoting myself to him, adopting his speech patterns, dropping the g's off all my gerunds, devising ways in which Mark might have to touch me even though every time he brushed against me, I felt my whole body empty, all of the heat leaving my body for his. By August, I was nearly empty inside, and I began to understand what my father meant when he whispered quietly and harshly to my mother in the stairwell when they both thought I was out, "Gloria, I have lost myself in this marriage."

What are you reading this week?

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