This is a review for The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer, a book Entertainment Weekly rated as one of the the top books of 2013. My faith in their reviewers is now utterly crushed because this book was not good.
** spoiler alert **
Spoilers and profanity in this review – you’ve been warned!
This was a well written novel. There were so many little things – like Ethan taking care of Mo Templeton as Mo is dying and remembering the sound of the straw – then in his cartoon Figland, he makes a big deal out of the straw sound. This lead to his viewers, particularly stoners, taking the straw sound and laughing, mimicking it, and buying lots of straws simply because it was funny. Taking the tragedy of someone dying horribly and turning it into a joke was just an example of some of the good writing. I also feel like the author knew that her characters were assholes. I simply don’t think she could have kept talking about Ash’s plays as being feminist while at the same time Ash is busy covering for her rapist brother without her setting up that dichotomy on purpose. It made Ash a fairly detestable character for me. I don’t think Wolitzer wants us to like these people.
I hated Jules. Never once did they show me that she was funny. She never cracked a joke I laughed at and honestly, I thought she was pretentious, stuck up, and superficial in the extreme. She and Ethan are “soul mates” except she is disgusted by his looks? She is hot for the RAPIST Goodman until he shows up with toe fungus and a gold tooth and because he is now old and ugly she is done with him? Really? THIS is our protagonist?
Page 154 was hard to read, but I LOVED that Cathy nailed Jules to the wall about her bullshit. Also, I think Cathy was a pretty strong character and I have to say that every time they talked about her rape by saying that Goodman was spoiled and Cathy was “needy” and that this somehow caused the rape to happen I wanted to kill them all. Who the fuck cares if Cathy was needy? I’ve met lots of needy women who were never raped. These two issues have nothing to do with each other and the fact that they kept trying and trying to make it Cathy’s fault that this spoiled ASSHOLE FUCKWAD raped her made me ill. Made me hate them.
Jules never grew up. She never improved. She was a static character of envy and bitchiness. Since most of the story is from her point of view that really sucks. We first meet her in her teens, follow her through marriage, having kids, and then through empty nest and she still acts like a spoiled, bratty 15 year old.
All of that said I read the whole book. I liked Ethan and I would say that I loved Ethan but his absolute insane love for Jules knocked him down to like. Kind of like how you have that friend you really like, then you find out that they are in love with a stupid jerk and so it lowers your opinion of them? That is how I felt about Ethan.
So much about this book made me really dislike the characters every step of the way. So, it was well written but I would never recommend it nor will I ever ever read it again. It is safe to say that I hated it.
Most of my book club felt the same way. I had a few people apologize and say that they hated the characters too much to continue reading the book. They were that awful – completely selfish people with no redeeming qualities.