Wednesday, September 28, 2016

MODERN LOVERS by Emma Straub

The “lovers” in this novel are three Brooklyn couples:  Zoe and Jane, whose marriage has lost its luster; Elizabeth and Andrew, who were fine (sort of) until Zoe and Jane started having issues; and Ruby and Harry, the teenage offspring of the aforementioned couples.  Elizabeth, Zoe, and Andrew were all in a rock band at one time, along with the now-deceased Lydia, who had a successful solo career.  A biopic of Lydia’s life needs the band’s consent to use their anthem and depict them in the movie.  Andrew is the lone holdout, and later we learn why.  He and Elizabeth have a complicated marriage.  He has family money and has never really brought in any income, while Elizabeth thrives as a real estate agent.  When Andrew becomes involved with a shady new-age guru and his entourage, Elizabeth becomes suspicious about what exactly he’s gotten himself into.  Elizabeth has always had sort of a thing for Zoe and leans on her as a confidante, creating friction with Jane.  Ruby and Harry have known each other their entire lives but start to really connect in an SAT prep class.  Everyone here needs couples therapy, except Ruby and Harry, who simply aren’t very wise, but who was at that age?  Late in the novel Elizabeth and Andrew swap admissions of betrayal, and I found hers to be much more egregious than his.  Basically, the adults in this novel are all well-adjusted on the outside and neurotic on the inside.  If you’re looking for life lessons or substance, you might be disappointed in this book, but I found it very readable, and although I might be in the minority, I liked the ending.

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