Can you remember your childhood friends? The ones that lived in the same neighborhood where everyone knew everyone. What if, even when everyone moved away, you stayed friends? What if the person you were going to marry was in that group? Can you meet ‘the one’ at 15? Robin Antalek explores the journey of growing up and getting older in her book The Grown Ups, which was published by William Morrow.
Sam Turner is 15 and somewhere between shy and outgoing. He has a group of friends that he has known all his life, he has an older brother and two loving parents. He also now has the secret affection of Suzie Epstein. However, when it gets out that Suzie’s father may or may not have had affairs with some of the neighborhood moms, Suzie’s family moves away to start a new life.
This leaves Sam with Bella Spade. Bella has always had a crush on Sam, even though she never told anyone. Not even her best friend, Suzie. When Suzie leaves and the group gets a little smaller, Bella finds the courage her senior year to make a move.
Suzie is determined never to end up like her mom: weak, dependent, borderline useless. This leaves Suzie to help raise her unruly younger brothers and feed a growing resentment towards her father, who doesn’t pay enough attention to know that she’s lying about taking tennis lessons.
The story follows these three characters from 15 to 30 years old, along with their friends and their parents. You see the ups and downs, the bad times and the good, the doubts and the confidence. You realize while reading that “growing up” and “getting older” are not the same thing. Most adults are making things up as they go along. The character development is beautiful, especially for Sam. He feels lost and adrift most of his life. He leaves when things get hard or too real. This is something we can all relate to, one way or another.
This is an interesting book to read, especially if you’re turned on by finding out what makes people tick. The psychological element is powerful and it will make you look at yourself, your friends and your parents in a whole new way. Antalek doesn’t just focus on the kids, she shows you what the parents are going through, as well. Not directly, you still only see things from the point of view of either Sam, Bella or Suzie, but you get to see the parents through their eyes. It’s enlightening and heartbreaking to realize that your parents are human, too.
You can find The Grown Ups at any of Tulsa’s local book stores: Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, The Frugal Bookworm and Gardners.
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