THE PLOT: All Adults Here by Emma Straub is about a dysfunctional American family from a small town outside of New York. The central character is Astrid, the widowed matriarch, who tries to get closer to her 30’s+ children after an unexpected death. There are chapters from the point of view of each of her three children, who are all struggling with being “grown-ups”, but it’s the chapters from the point of view of Astrid’s 13-year-old granddaughter (who comes to live with her), which really sets this book apart.
RATING: The plot of this book is hard to explain without spoilers and the description on the back didn’t pique my interest too strongly. However, once I started reading I began to love this novel so I’m giving it four and a half stars. With a Stars Hollow-esque setting and a myriad of LGBTQ+ issues, this novel surprised and delighted me, and I couldn’t get enough.
GOOD BITS: Every character was well rounded, nuanced and relatable. By having so many different perspectives, the author manages to realistically depict lots of characters at varying stages of their lives. I loved how each character relayed the same events in the family’s history in slightly contrasting ways, illustrating how we all form different impressions from the same interactions. It was particularly poignant how some events, such as the therapy session, became mythologized in the family’s history and some massive problems to one person were barely remembered by the others.
Overall, my favourite character was Cecelia and I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline with her best friend August. Through her eyes we see what it’s like to have “cool millennial” parents, and navigate friendships and growing up in the Instagram-Age.
NOT SO GOOD BITS: Let’s be fair, this book is a little bit homogenous and twee, which the LGBTQ+ aspects can only go so far in mitigating. Despite the lack of non-white characters (I’m pretty sure the eldest son’s wife is Asian as a quick fix to address this), this wasn’t a major issue because the book is very insular and focused on a small family, but it’s probably not a realistic representation of contemporary New York suburbs.
OVERALL: I’d highly recommend this book because I think it will surprise you. It starts off being one thing and keeps mutating until lots of different themes are touched upon. The overarching message of making time for your family, loving them with all your heart, and doing your best even when you don’t know what to do, is thoroughly uplifting. A great book for a rainy Sunday afternoon when you’re in need of a smile.
This book was #gifted to me by the publisher, Michael J Books in return for an honest review.