A starred review indicates a book of outstanding quality. A review with a blue-tinted title indicates a book of unusual commercial interest that hasn't received a starred review.
Neurotic siblings and embarrassing parents are familiar (even required) elements of the literature of suburban nostalgia and malaise. Wolitzer (Surrender , Dorothy ; The Wife ) doesn't tamper with these basic ingredients in her latest novel, but she gives them a titillating twist. Paul and Roz Mellow are enthusiastically in love—so much so that in 1975 they write a how-to sex book, Pleasuring , that features illustrations of them in every imaginable position. The book becomes a runaway bestseller. When the children find the book and read it together, they're forever traumatized, in ways both serious and comedic. Flash forward 30 years: Paul and Roz are long divorced and remarried, and Paul, in particular, remains bitter; the grown children fumble through their lives on the eve of the publisher's reissue of the sex classic. The oldest, Holly, has settled into late motherhood after a lifetime of nomadic drug-taking; uptight Michael suffers from chronic depression; Dashiell, a gay Log Cabin Republican speechwriter, is diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease; and insecure late-bloomer Claudia returns to her Long Island hometown to finally figure out how to be a fully functioning adult. If the characters are rather stock, and the musings on love, sex and family familiar, Wolitzer nevertheless bestows her trademark warmth and light touch on this tale of social and domestic change. Agent, Peter Matson at Sterling Lord Literistic. 6-city author tour. (Mar. 8)