‘Modern Lovers’ by Emma Straub – Book Review

Blurb from 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 band-mates 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 neighbourhood 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 humour together in a satisfying book about neighbours 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.

My Review

At some moments in our life it’s just our right to be completely irrational right??? I mean I know in my heart and soul that this book deserves more than one star.
I know it.
The author invested so much time in writing it, there were developed characters, a plot, good writing….. Surely I should award this two stars at least and be on my merry way???

But there’s just one teeny, tiny little problem….
I hated it.

Okay. So maybe I didn’t completely hate “it” but more the whole reading experience. I’d finish a chapter and say UGHHH!!! And there were seventy something chapters so that’s a lot of ughhh!!! I didn’t like any of the characters in this book. They were all so tiresome. However, usually that’s not a problem. I don’t need to like characters. Sometimes it’s more interesting reading about characters that you don’t like / people that you can’t relate to. But usually in books like those the story keeps me interested. This, sadly, did not. These characters frustrated me so very much. It’s a book about upper middle class New Yorker-type ageing hipsters (two couples & long term friends) with their clichéd life crises and dramas and their hipster teens with their clichéd life crises and dramas, and I just did not and do not care. I wanted to throw my book at them SO VERY VERY OFTEN!!!

And the story….
Meh… whatever!
Been there, read that, have the t-shirt…

So maybe if the structure of the book had been to my liking I could have found some enjoyment. But the chapters were too short!! You’d have a chapter about character one that lasted on average three pages and then the next chapter would be about character two, the next about character three etc. And instead of creating a “can’t stop reading / constant page-turning experience”, it made the book too choppy. It lost that lovely flow and rhythm you get from a good book. So hence I’d get to the end of each chapter and just feel annoyed!

But the book did have one or two lovely moments. There were some beautifully written passages about a disintegrating marriage. This one in particular stood out to me.

“She walked with stiff legs into the hall and peered into the other bedrooms. There was no sign of either her wife or her daughter. ‘Guys?’ she called, her voice loud and clear. The house was empty. This is what it would be like for the rest of her life – calling into empty rooms and waiting for responses that weren’t coming. Getting married was the easy part, even though they’d had to wait until Ruby was twelve to do it legally. When they got together, it was all balloons, all hope. Now that they knew what the future held – what the future looked like – it was much harder. Why couldn’t everyone stay young forever? If not on the outside, then just on the inside, where no one ever got too old to be optimistic.”

“Why couldn’t everyone stay young forever? If not on the outside, then just on the inside, where no one ever got too old to be optimistic.” I really do love this thought. Do we lose optimism as we get older? Does our hope ebb away with the passing years???
So I know I’ve probably rated…. okay definitely rated (yikes!!)… less well written books with a higher rating but this one was just so disappointing to me. And maybe that’s the biggest reason for my low rating. I had been eagerly looking forward to reading this. It sounded right up my street as I usually like family saga type books or those ones about people that all live within the same neighbourhood…just sadly not this time.

one star

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17 thoughts on “‘Modern Lovers’ by Emma Straub – Book Review

  1. Ohmy god I totally understand your frustration, hon! Some books are just….sooo fucking….ughhhh….THATS THE ONLY EMOTION! UGHHH!! A BIG FUCKING UGHH!!
    And even though you said the characters were well developed, there’s still more to a character, it HAS to be fleshed out, you HAVE to believe in them…for better or worse….doesn’t matter as long as you believe in them enough to follow their story! And I can see that didn’t happen in this one!

    AND I AM SOOOO SORRYY that you had to go through such a tiresome book! ☹️☹️☹️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. You get me!!!! I had wanted and expected so much from this book… A true character study, a deep exploration of love and what it does to us all… But flatness. Flatness flatness flatness. I
      The premise flattered to deceive sadly. And reading this book has put me off this author for life I believe… I don’t know, never say never I guess. Perhaps I will give her another chance in future. Thank you dearest Rain <3333 :)))))

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I am just…I am sad that you had such a disappointing experience. 😩☹️☹️ And I hope that the next read will be far more fulfilling! 😘😘😘💕💕

        PS : I have to say though that I am a bit relieved as well because had you loved it, I’d HAVE to add it to my tbr! 🤣🤣

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Inge!! I am a fan of reading all types of reviews too. And as a reviewer I feel if I am not honest about the books I don’t like and can’t explain my reasonings there of, then how can the veracity of any of my most recommended reads be trusted:)))

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my gosh, I read this book and hated it and couldn’t even finish it – I am so glad someone else out there disliked it as much as me! I assumed I just needed to go back and try to read it another time (which I still might, because sometimes I’m weird like that) but I’m so glad to know I’m not alone! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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