Torea Frey

Editor, writer, photographer, observer on the street.

The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer

Wolitzer's novel tracks the lives of six friends who meet at summer camp in their teens. I was concerned this would be a simple coming-of-age yarn, but it's more than that: as she writes, "... clearly life took people and shook them around until finally they were unrecognizable even to those who had once known them well." We see the protagonists shift over time, and the narrative is broad --  at times almost too ambitious in its scope.

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In detailing so many lives, much of what the reader takes in verges on the mundane, which in the end is part of the book's beauty. It takes a lot of bravado to title a work The Interestings  (cue the critics: "More like The Uninterestings!"). But Wolitzer suggests an alternative to the idea that we all must be stars -- that being fascinating is less important than simply being human. "You didn't always need to be the dazzler, the firecracker, the one who cracked everyone up," the narrator observes. "You could cease to be obsessed with the idea of being interesting. Anyway, she knew, the definition could change; it had changed for her." It might change for you, too.