cover image The Interestings

The Interestings

Meg Wolitzer. Riverhead, $27.95 (464p) ISBN 978-1-59448-839-9

In the “nefarious, thoroughly repulsive” summer of 1974, 15-year-old Julie Jacobson, “an outsider and possibly even a freak” from the suburbs, gets a scholarship to an arts camp and falls in with a group of kids—the aptly self-named “Interestings.” Talented, attractive, and from New York City, to Julie they are “like royalty and French movie stars.” There Julie, renamed Jules, finds her place, and Wolitzer her story: the gap between promise and genuine talent, the bonds and strains of long friendships, and the journey from youth to middle age, with all its compromises, secrets, lies, and disparities. One member of the group, Jonah, is the son of a famous folk singer, and another, Ethan, becomes an extremely successful animator, and another Interestings member whose brother-in-law is accused of raping a girl in the group, flees his court date and disappears. Meanwhile, Jules, the character Wolitzer focuses on, becomes a therapist, marries a nice guy with no interest in being as “interesting” as her camp friends, and copes with jealousy and not having enough money in New York City. While Wolitzer (The Ten-Year Nap) is adept at switching between past and present, and showing the different fears that dog Jules at different ages, the problem is that the Interestings are never quite as interesting as this 464-page look at them requires them to be. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, WME Entertainment. (Apr.)