THE LOVERS BY EMMA STRAUB
My love of books go way back, when I was 8 years old, to be exact. I had picked up reading very well and my parents gifted me the book "The Witches" by Roald Dahl. It was a Christmas gift I will forever remember, because I finished the book in a blink of an eye. The warm feelings a book can give you, or a memory, well, that pretty much sums it up. The warm cosy feelings of Christmas and having that great book on your lap you can't stop reading? That's the reason why I always try and read books.
For a long time I didn't read, because I simply didn't create time to do it. When I did start again, I felt happy. Relaxed. A book really helps me to fall asleep better when I read it before bedtime too. And for the longest time I have always wanted to become Roald Dahl: a children's book author. And illustrate my own books. In a way that's still one of my dreams though. That is probably why you can always find me somewhere in a book store. That's something you can wake me up for!
Do you remember the movie You’ve Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks? Well, the quaint bookstore of Meg Ryan in the movie made me dream of owning the same sweet shop. That space is filled to the rim with books of all sorts. Wherever I am, I always will enter a cute looking bookstore (or any other book shop) and buy a book! I literally could spend hours in a bookshop, perusing the shelves of fiction, non fiction, cookbooks, children’s reads, etc. It’s my type of store where I always end up walking out with too much have-to-have items...
I just finished To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and shared some of my thoughts about it here. Although the story read a bit slow in the beginning, it has had me thinking to this day. How racism is still very much alive, sadly enough. After so many years when Martin Luther King who once spoke about his dream, I really wonder when people will be able to live next to each other without any prejudices, without any anger or hate...
Now onto this book, I picked up this book in Holland on a lazy summer Sunday when we were strolling around and I had to enter this little bookshop (and I couldn't leave without buying a book...). As I had read a lot of raving reviews about Emma Straub's first novel The Vacationers I had gotten curious. Sadly I couldn't find her first novel The Vacationers so I bought this novel. In Modern Lovers Emma Straub allows us to take a peek into the lives of four friends who are living in Brooklyn and are in the middle of a midlife crisis. In one way or another, they are all looking back with loads of nostalgia at their younger years. While their own teenage kids are almost grown up themselves, problems are rising until the point where the friends are wondering: "is this everything the adult life has to offer?" I really enjoyed this book. At first I had a bit of trouble getting along, but it was because Emma navigates from character to character by shifting point of views. It was a bit confusing when I started reading, but it quickly grew on me. For some reason I could really relate, because it is all about balancing your relationships and what a difficult task it can be. I don't want to give too much away, so I suggest you reading it yourself!
For everyone who is interested in picking up this book (I read the Dutch translation: "Onder Ons"), here is how the story goes (via Goodreads):
From the New York Times‒bestselling author of The Vacationers, a smart, highly entertaining novel about a tight-knit group of friends from college—their own kids now going to college—and what it means to finally grow up well after adulthood has set in.
Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.
Back in the band's heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adults' lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed.
Straub packs wisdom and insight and humor together in a satisfying book about neighbors and nosiness, ambition and pleasure, the excitement of youth, the shock of middle age, and the fact that our passions—be they food, or friendship, or music—never go away, they just evolve and grow along with us.
Photos taken by Inge Picqueur for Jules and Louis.