I first heard about this book on Twitter when Judy Blume (@judyblume) mentioned how much she loved this book. This does seem like her type of book written for adults.
It starts at a camp for the performing and visual arts called Spirit in the Woods in 1974. A bunch of teenagers are hanging out in a teepee. This is Julie’s (later known as Jules) first time at a camp like this and she feels like she is an outsider. The other kids, Ash and her brother Goodman Wolf; Ethan Figman; Jonah Bey; and Cathy Kiplinger have been going to the camp for a while. They all become very close friends and decide to call themselves The Interestings. This friendship for all but Cathy lasts for the rest of their lives.
The entire book is about this friendship starting at the camp and ending when they are all in their 50s or 60s. Ash and Jules become the closest of friends and Ash eventually marries Ethan Figman. Ethan becomes a famous and wealthy animator of a hit adult cartoon called Figland which never gets cancelled (closest resemblance in real life is something like The Simpsons). Ash becomes a director of feminist plays.
Jules thinks she wants to be a comedic actress, but when that falls through becomes a therapist and marries Dennis, an ultrasound technician. So while Jules and Dennis have normal lives, Ash and Ethan have this wealthy lifestyle and it does bring up pretty intense feelings of jealousy within Jules. Jonah has a famous mother who was a folk singer in the folk revival of the 1960s and Jonah is actually very good with the guitar, but something happens when he was a child by a friend of his mother’s which puts him off on music for good. He ends up going to MIT and becoming a robotics engineer. Then there is Goodman and Cathy in the late 1970s. On New Year’s Eve something happens to them that is so damaging that Cathy becomes an outsider and Goodman becomes a fugitive living in another country and the only two who know about him are Ash and Jules.
The story is very engaging and engrossing to read. On the other hand, none of the characters are ultimately very likable. I assumed that this book might be something considered “chick lit” and it probably is, but I ended up enjoying it a lot. The only thing that bothered me and really made me think about the book is the scene I referred to about Goodman and Cathy and everyone else’s almost nonchalant reaction to it. Wolitzer does have a wonderful writing style and every time this event is referred to, the reader is left to question what really went on. I give this book 4 stars.