Sam Turner’s fifteenth summer is a revelation. He receives the flirtatious attention of the girl next door, Suzie Epstein, and his mother abandons their family without explanation. His older brother Michael (a serious, studious freshman in college with big plans for his life) and their father (an attorney) seem to accept her absence with no questions asked. Sam, however, feels adrift, and struggles to understand how a person you thought would always be there can be suddenly and inexplicably gone.
Over the years, the bonds that formed in childhood between Sam and his tight knit group of friends prove to be remarkably resilient as they stumble into adulthood. In alternating voices, THE GROWN UPS explores the deep connection that forms between friends as they navigate parents, siblings, lovers, and each other. A potent commentary on friendships and families, THE GROWN UPS is about that time in life when we realize that friends have become family and family has become friends.
Full of love, loss and laughter, THE GROWN UPS is a story about the circumstances and people that influence, change and push you to discover not only the truth about each other, but who it is that you really want to be when you grow up.
"Antalek has given us more than just a good read"
In this vast, funny, and often profound novel, Antalek has given us more than just a good read -- she's painted a portrait of how youth evolves into age, and the loss and victory that comes with inevitable, hard-fought adulthood. From page one, these friends -- who become our friends -- are drawn with wisdom and poignancy by a writer who understands that the child continues to live inside the grown-up, with the same wide eyes and brittle hearts.”
--Susanna Daniel, author of Sea Creatures and Stiltsville
Robin Antalek’s characters feel so vivid, so fully known, you’ll swear you grew up in their close-knit neighborhood along with them. Fans of Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and Joanna Hershon’s A Dual Inheritance will love this thoughtful exploration of the warp and weft of our closest relationships. Here is a portrayal of that mystery at the heart of modern life: what it means, in a world of bad influences and clueless parenting, to actually become a grown-up.
--Amy Shearn author of The Mermaid of Brooklyn and How Far Is The Ocean From Here
“THE GROWN UPS is one of those rare books that pulls you deeper into your own life and your own memories as you navigate Antalek's beautifully woven storyline. You'll hang on to this book like a photo album that you'll want to flip through again and again, if only to feel the poignant ache of nostalgia.”
-- Jessica Anya Blau, author of The Wonder Bread Summer
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Library Journal Review:
For teenagers Sam Turner, Suzie Epstein, and Bella Spade, life in a New York suburb is a jumble of friendships and young crushes, complicated but retaining some innocence. This insulated world collapses in the aftermath of family break ups and the path to becoming grown-ups is suddenly more complex. Over the next decade, Suzie and Bella barrel through college and into relationships. Sam drifts about switching jobs, and they all reshape their ties to aging parents. Despite stumbles and losses, each finds a way to adulthood, sometimes aided and sometimes held back by their childhood bonds. VERDICT Like Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, Antalek’s second novel (after The Summer We Fell Apart) is an engaging ensemble piece with revealing insights about friendships. A great choice for book clubs looking for new adult titles.
--Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll. Lib., NC
"In these pages, you'll find first kisses and secret loves. You'll find front porches and backyards, a time that doesn't quite belong to us anymore. You'll find old mistakes and new mistakes. The different ways, all our lives, we continue to grow up. Ultimately, you'll find a book about families and friendships that was written with great love."
--Rebecca Rasmussen author of The Bird Sisters and Evergreen
"A story filled with forgiveness and unmistakable hope."
Robin Antalek's The Grown Ups is a celebration of resiliency and the bonds of friendship. When a cluster of neighborhood kids reunite at turning points in their lives, they are humbled by a world they thought they could manage better than their parents. Antalek’s unflinching but merciful lens illuminates a tender beauty in life’s ups and downs, in the compassion born of heartache and failure, and in the gratitude owed to those who provide companionship and shelter along the way. A story filled with forgiveness and unmistakable hope.
--Susan Henderson, Author of Up from the Blue
"The Grown Ups is a highly relatable, fiercely readable, and deeply satisfying tale about the families we don't choose, the history that binds us, and the evolving relationships that shape our lives. Antalek writes with a clear eye, a deft touch, and a big heart."
--Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here and The Revised Fundamentals of Caretaking
"When it comes to achieving and sustaining tone, [Robin Antalek] is an absolute genius."
What Robin Antalek does better than anyone else is locate the pivotal moments of life in everyday events, and then charge those moments with rich, powerful and authentic emotional resonance. When it comes to achieving and sustaining tone, she is an absolute genius. I ache for Sam Turner, the lost soul at the heart of this, Antalek’s soaring second novel, just as hard as I did for the Haas family in her stunning debut, The Summer We Fell Apart. The Grown-Ups is about absence and fulfillment, about hunger and nourishment, about loss and being lost—a haunting and unforgettable book.
--Greg Olear, author of Fathermucker and Totally Killer