I received this book in a Muse Monthly book subscription, which ended a few years ago. Yes, it sat on my TBR pile that long. Not because I'm slow but because it kept getting moved around the pile depending when I rearranged it. The way I have now is much more visual as some are spine out on the bookshelf while others are stuck in piles below.
None of that was interesting, I mean, who cares how I have my TBR pile set up. I'm not sure what the lady who created the box is doing--well, I do, 'cause I'm a little nosy. They work in the publishing industry. Anyways. The box was great because it caused me to branch out with genres.
Title: All Grown Up
Author: Jami Attenberg
Page Number: 197 (hardcover)
Genre: contemporary, fiction, literary fiction
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Who is Andrea Bern? When her therapist asks the question, Andrea knows the right things to say: she’s a designer, a friend, a daughter, a sister. But it’s what she leaves unsaid—she’s alone, a drinker, a former artist, a shrieker in bed, captain of the sinking ship that is her flesh—that feels the most true. Everyone around her seems to have an entirely different idea of what it means to be an adult: her best friend, Indigo, is getting married; her brother—who miraculously seems unscathed by their shared tumultuous childhood—and sister-in-law are having a hoped-for baby; and her friend Matthew continues to wholly devote himself to making dark paintings at the cost of being flat broke.
But when Andrea’s niece finally arrives, born with a heartbreaking ailment, the Bern family is forced to reexamine what really matters. Will this drive them together or tear them apart? Told in gut-wrenchingly honest, mordantly comic vignettes, All Grown Up is a breathtaking display of Jami Attenberg’s power as a storyteller, a whip-smart examination of one woman’s life, lived entirely on her own terms.
This was interesting in some ways and annoying in others. It's set up as a series of vignettes (vignettes/scenes equaling a chapter) into our main characters life. It's about Andrea Bern, a single thirty-nine year old woman who doesn't have children. She lives in NYC and dropped out of art school.
The book follows her bumbling through life and family moments trying to form a connection and often failing. She works in advertising (after her sister-in-law helps her out) and spends her free time drinking, some drugs, and having sex with some dudes. Some of the vignettes in the book showcase Andrea meeting up or interacting with other people and don't add much to the story other than showcasing some of her snark/wit/comedy or showing her unmoored.
Other vignettes show the pivotal moments in her life, striking cold and heartbreaking stuff that can shape your life or wreck it even. I'm not sure I want to go into it (it's in the Washington Post, Guardian article below), but when I read it I thought, "oh, this explains it all" and was able to view Andrea with a softer lens. Even though Andrea is super frustrating at times.
The ending was bittersweet and perfect, a beauty in everything falling apart. I can't say I enjoyed it all but I thought it was a good way to show the culmination of the story. I think the main point is that Andrea is striving for happiness but she doesn't know what she wants or how to get there. Other people want Andrea to settle into what they think would make her happy/content but it's not what she wants. It's the struggle of adulthood in some way.
Things that drove me batty-the tense. It's written in first person point of view. The Washington Post described the layout as a "fragmented clutter," and they're not wrong. I still don't think I like it. I appreciated what she was doing and I think she knocked it out of the park...but I need organized layouts more than I'd like to admit. The book jumps between the present and random moments of her past (childhood and younger adult years) and sometimes that was hard to follow.
I'm going to disagree on the humor level on the book. I didn't find it that humourous but instead dark, underlying moments that don't really come to fruition beyond a quick chapter.