Modern Lovers by Emma Straub is authentic and honest and full of coming-of-age truths. Last year I read Straub’s bestselling book, The Vacationers, and I really didn’t like it. Despite this, I wanted to give her new book, Modern Lovers, a chance and I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed it.
The story focuses on a group of friends who were in a band together during college as they face middle age in New York City. Seeing that their children are on the brink of adulthood puts there own lives into focus and a series of fiascos ensue.
The fourth band mate from all those years ago, Lydia, broke apart from the band and found fame before dying in her 20’s. Now, just as the remaining band members are on the verge of mid-life crises, a production studio wants to create a movie of Lydia’s life, which in turn unearths some old secrets from their college years that they might not be ready to face…
Here are a few of the quotes that stood out to me:
“Choices were easy to make until you realized how long life could be.”
“There was nothing about youth that was fair; the young hadn’t done anything to deserve it, and the old hadn’t done anything to drive it away.”
“Andrew wanted to cry, thinking of all the things he’d deprived his son of, just because he hadn’t thought to do them.”
“Urgency was for younger people…”
“Timing was everything – that was more and more obvious the older you got, when you finally understood that the universe wasn’t held together in any way that made sense.”
I like to think of Modern Lovers as a coming-of-age story for multiple generations. It’s definitely a good book and I recommend it for the summer!
Despite seeing The Vacationers by Emma Straub on many fiction recommendation lists, I’ve also heard from many of my friends that they couldn’t finish it. Despite these non-recommendations, I decided to take a swing at it myself. Warning – there are a few spoilers in this review, nothing to give away the whole plot, but enough to explain my review.
The Vacationers runs pretty much how one would expect based off the title. This is the story of the Posts, a family traveling on a predictable vacation and while being cooped together, drama inevitably arises.
What disappointed me the most about this book was how predictable each character is. First there’s the moody teenage daughter who is uncomfortable in her own skin and thus criticizes everyone else throughout the entire trip. Then you have the verging on 30-year-old son who is not only an immature bimbo, but he has gotten himself $150,000 dollars in debt. Next up we have the father, who so predictably cheated on his wife with the blonde (of course she is) 23-year-old assistant at his office. Lastly, there’s the mother. Cheery Franny puts on a brave face in front of her children while giving her husband the cold shoulder (rightfully so) behind closed doors.
As with most family vacations, the characters were forced to spend time together and to face their problems. In a feel good ending, the Post family finds their way back to each other. All in all, a fine story, but I did get through to the end of the book and that’s worth something.