Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Jami Attenberg: All Grown Up

All Grown Up is not your usual romance or chick-lit novel, although it is about a single woman. There is no happy ending, no relationship to fix, no love triangle. No frog prince and no lavish wedding and baby shower(s) - at least not for the main character, Andrea. 
Andrea, who is living in New York City, in Brooklyn, used to live an apartment with a tiny view of the Empire State Building that will soon obstructed by an extended construction. She loved to draw the Empire State Building from different angles, because Andrea used to be an art student once, but she gave up for a corporate boring life.
Sometimes, she is 'tired to fit in where you don't', but she is not strong enough 'to follow her dreams'. Even at her boring work, she is doing her boring everyday job waiting that maybe one day she will make a mistake big enough to be fired. But she is not. She is 40, and single and without any serious long-term life plans. You can live this way well beyond 40, even if you are living in New York City. 
You are introduced to Andrea through various people, so until the end of th story you know almost everything about her, without really understanding her or single out for something. She can be one of the people you meet while commuting in the morning, lost in her thoughts or too hangover to look around to make eye contact. Not because she is trying to plan an escape from her boring life but because she just doesn't need to aim that high. She has opinions about politics, race and women rights, but she is not going beyond uttering an opinion or a thought once in a while. No, she is not like her social activist mother and she is the perfect anti-hero of our times - and chick-lits. 
The tone of the story is sarcastic, the pace is alert and the many fragments of Andrea brought to you through small stories, like the many faces of a huge kaleidoscope. The result is an excellent character construction that makes it more real.
I personally had mixed feelings about the book, because it takes some time to enter the mood and the spirit, but if you take some time to think about everything after finishing the book, the first opinion might change. It is a pleasant, quality and thoughtful lecture that challenges stereotypes, especially literary ones.

Rating: 4 stars

Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
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