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The Interestings

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  62,078 ratings  ·  7,817 reviews
From bestselling author Meg Wolitzer a dazzling, panoramic novel about what becomes of early talent, and the roles that art, money, and even envy can play in close friendships.

The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer fo
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Hardcover, 468 pages
Published April 9th 2013 by Riverhead Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Bekah No, I don't think so. The use of Books-within-Books, Plays-within-Plays, etc, has been around for a long time and is certainly not a new idea or…moreNo, I don't think so. The use of Books-within-Books, Plays-within-Plays, etc, has been around for a long time and is certainly not a new idea or unique to any one person.(less)
Travis Ward I'm about 180 pages into it and am really enjoying it. The pacing is slow, but I find the characters interesting enough that I want to know what…moreI'm about 180 pages into it and am really enjoying it. The pacing is slow, but I find the characters interesting enough that I want to know what happens in their lives. Wolitzer has a good, often biting sense of humor, which is also adding to my enjoyment. I'm pretty sure I'll be giving it five stars!(less)

Community Reviews

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~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
This book was not Interesting (capital I or otherwise) in any way. Wolitzer wrote in such an ironic, lofty fashion that I was completely distanced from the characters. Very little actually happens in this novel, unless you count life, and that happens to all of us and does not a novel make.

Six teens meet at summer camp, and four of them remain friends for decades. The friends deal with successes and failure, various love affairs, and one scandal, which is the central plot point of the novel (ye
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
The Interestings are about as interesting as my butt dimple. The most exciting moment came when I rushed to my dictionary to check on the correct plural form for clitoris. I thought it might be 'clitori'. Or even 'clitorae'. But clitorises is the accepted form. I much prefer the correct Greek plural provided by my dictionary -- 'clitorides'. It's a word that deserves capitalization: Clitorides, Greek goddess of female pleasure.
Stephen King
A group of adolescents—little more than children, really—meet at a camp where kids explore their creativity. Ethan, Jules, Cathy, Goodman, Ash: All believe they are meant for great things. This assumption of huge talent where there may be little or none lies at the heart of Wolitzer’s novel, which sweeps across a span of decades. There’s sentiment here, full and wholehearted, but little sentimentality. Like The Corrections, The Interestings addresses one of fiction’s great themes: how we make pe ...more
Julie
I’m not certain what 44 looks like, other than what I’m presented with in the mirror each morning. The Social Security Life Expectancy calculator informs me that I’ve lived half my anticipated span. The tired maxim encourages me not to think of the years in my life, but the life in my years.

Now that I’m marooned in middle age for a spell, I’ve been thinking an awful lot about the life in the years ahead of and behind me. Have I achieved something of value in my work, my relationships? Is what I
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switterbug (Betsey)
Meg Wolitzer’s captivating new novel, set in the bustle and exuberance of New York, is a panoramic and epic drama, but a sleeper kind of epic. It gripped me by degrees, opening rather conventionally and then gradually seducing me with a fertile character development and realistic, original story. She penetrates the messiness of human lives with a spotless narrative that feels both familiar and singular. If you are drawn to human drama, you’ll soon be thoroughly hooked. This is surely the crown o ...more
Chaitra
There's a point in which one of the characters - a highly successful animator Ethan - wonders which Disney character would the protagonist Jules be and concludes that Disney doesn't make princesses like her. Wonderingly. I would have loved to point him to the nearest green-with-envy evil stepmother/stepsister. They're dime a dozen in Disney.

And that's exactly what Jules is, jealous, petty and self absorbed even after 50+ years of her life. The novel barely acknowledges this. Oh, there are a cou
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Elaine
I wanted to like this book much more than I did. I was sucked in by the opening chapters, a group of friends, a summer camp much like my own, only half a generation older than me. I even recognized the types: the serious beautiful girl, the nerdy but well loved creative boy, the awkward girl making her way through on humor (me), the gorgeous arrogant boy... I could give each of these characters names from my own camp experience. And I could picture the Wolf's New York, the big Central Park apart ...more
Nicole
Ugh. I agree so much with Dani's review.

I heard an interview with Wolitzer on NPR and was intrigued and really looked forward to reading this book. I wanted to like it which is why I got nearly halfway through... waiting... hoping something was going to happen... before I skipped about a hundred pages to about 5 or 6 chapters from the end. Wolitzer is so repetitive that it wasn't at all hard to figure out what I'd missed.

This book really has no plot. I actually am a fan of character-driven novel
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Melanie
So. Fucking. Great.

I'm going to gush. It's going to come out all wrong. But that's ok.

There was so much soul and perceptiveness in this genius novel that I don't really know what to say other than "go read it now".

What happens to talent over time? What happens to teenage friendships over time? What happens to passion and ideals and dreams over time?

This novel will fill your heart to the brim and break it like a twig all at the same time.

I will echo another Goodreads friend and say that it is
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Natalie Tyler
I was tempted to read this book by the glowing reviews and it proved to me that the reviewers are not ALWAYS wrong.

THE INTERESTINGS is a book of great depth and insight. It follows six characters who meet at summer camp in 1974 up through the present--along with, to varying degrees, new friends, new relationships, and family members. Although there are many historically resonant moments, more than anything this is a book about character growth and development. I am not the only one who has comp
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Kevin Lanahan
Jun 23, 2013 Kevin Lanahan rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: irony junkies, fatalists
Shelves: fiction
Meh. Another book with an ironic title.

The first part of the book plods along as you wait for something to happen. Then the second part comes and you still wait for something to happen. Then the third part comes along and you understand that the author was just writing a long, unfunny Seinfeld episode, a story about nothing.

Actually, I think she just wanted to let us know that East Coast kids who went to long summer camps in the mountains got married, had kids, had little life dramas, and all
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helen the bookowl
ONE OF MY FAVOURITE BOOKS THIS YEAR! I'm still sitting with the smile on my face I had when I finished the last page. This book was so touching and beautiful and true and it went straight to my heart.
Basically, this book is about a group of children getting to know each other at a summer camp. We then follow each individual throughout their lives and that's it! I can see why some people would have some problems with this book because it is quite slow-going and nothing big happens.
But in my opi
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Kress
I. Loved. This. Book.

It was everything good in one rainbow-striped package. Maybe it's because I read so much young-adult fiction, but it felt like a book about growing up--but set when the real growing up begins. Unlike YA books where the growing up ends at age 16, Wolitzer begins there. We enter at this critical moment in time when life feels both fragile and endless. And, through Wolitzer's deft storytelling we realize it is both--and neither.

I LOVED the relationships-the friendships, the rom
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K
She sat down to write her review of The Interestings. Her fingers hovered over the keyboard. Oh, the angst.

Was it her? Should she list her fifty insecurities in homage to the bizarre self-awareness of these characters, who spent so much time contemplating their navels it was a wonder none of them was ever hit by a car? Oh, dear. Was that a spoiler? No, it wasn't a spoiler. Now, where were we? Have we made much progress with this review?

Okay. Let's move the plot along here. We'll start with the m
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Brigid
A local bookstore featured this book on their suggested shelf and had written something to the extent of, "What Franzen tries to do in Freedom, Wolitzer does in The Interestings." Based on this review, I snatched up the book immediately and looked forward to reading it at the beach over a long 4th of July weekend.

And while this book was a mildly entertaining beach read, it stops there. There's not much at stake for any of Wolitzer's characters--all of whom are white, relatively privileged, and f
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Glenn Sumi
The Interestings is a big, beautiful and utterly absorbing novel about art, friendship, love, life and mortality. It also deals with something rarely seen in fiction: envy.

In the mid-1970s at an arts-oriented summer camp in upstate New York, six precocious kids bond over music, V&Ts (vodka and Tang) and a bit of pot. They each have gifts – some more defined than others – and insecurities. They call themselves “the interestings,” because, well, they are, and they’re convinced they’re going t
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Abby
Meg Wolitzer is a good writer and the first 100 pages vividly captures the angst-y itch of being adolescent and artistic, but as the plot progresses and the characters continue to act like their selfish and immature selves well into middle age, I ultimately lost interest in them.

Wolitzer brings up many important topics (e.g., rape, 9/11, and AIDS, as well as themes of unrequited love, the role of money in friendships, morality and ethics between friends and couples, etc.) but everything is disc
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Lex
While the main character irked me at times with her jealousy and how unappreciative she was of her own life and talents, the author created her with the saving grace of self-awareness of these traits. The fact that she isn't blind to the absurdity of her envy of her friends was redeeming for me in a way.

Liked:
The author touched on a lot of meaningful themes that resonated with me.
--Am I now who I thought I would become when I was young?
--Is it significant that I may not be how I thought I would
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Jane Olsen
The premise of the book is one that is quite familiar: a group of young people develop a strong bond while attending camp together, and the story follows the evolution of their lives and relationships into adulthood. It's fascinating to me that so many people think this is an outstanding piece of writing. The author fails one of my most elementary assessments for my fifth-grade writers: Can you show me what you mean, instead of telling me? Not only are these characters not particularly interesti ...more
Heather
The most effusive 5 star rating i have given in a while...this is another "book coma" one for me, where i am gonna have to take a few days off from reading because I'm going to be pissed off at any book that isn't this book for some time. The writing sucked me in immediatly, and even though i read fiction like it's my job...and thankfully it kind of is...that doesn't happen very often. Then, the themes of the book...at times I would have sworn someone was following me around with a hidden camera ...more
Maxwell
Absolutely wonderful. Maybe not the most technically brilliant book I've ever read, it had that certain quality that comes along very rarely in reading that completely sweeps you off your feet. I fell in love with the characters because that is what Wolitzer does best in her writing. If you want real, raw characters who you can rejoice or cry with, The Interestings is the book for you. I won't soon forget how each and every one of these characters, their lives, and their talents intertwined with ...more
Richard Kramer
This totally annoyed me, because it's fantastic and it's the book I wanted to write next if I was good enough to write it, which I'm probably not. It would be condescending and untrue to say of Meg Wolitzer that her work just keeps getting better, because it's always good. This one especially moved me, maybe because I saw myself in all its characters. And I like a longish book that pisses you off because it ends and now you've read it and what the fuck are you supposed to do now?
B the BookAddict
May 08, 2014 B the BookAddict rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: Melanie's review

Major book hangover after finishing this one.

The Interestings truly makes me swoon. I feel like the unseen member of this group of characters, the author has hypnotized me with her way with words. You simply must read this novel for yourself.

This latest novel by Meg Wolitzer could easily become my reading yardstick. It is thought-provoking, serious, insouciant and amusing; it strolls across your consciousness with a lazy charm. Each character is lovingly crafted; Meg Wolitzer knows what she is
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Kim
When I finished The Interestings, the first thing I wondered was: "How is it possible that I have never read another Meg Wolitzer novel before this one?" I will be ordering all her other ones.

I connected to this novel in a deeply powerful way, both because of her rich voice and writing but also because she writes with such clear-eyed observation of the human experience. I ordered The Interestings because for some reason I'm drawn to novels that examine friendship in the teen years, the choices
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Roxanne
Apr 23, 2013 Roxanne rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Roxanne by: roxannebcb
Not so interestings.
Jessica
Look, I never went to summer camp. I don't understand the Lifelong Bond among Camp People. Any non-camper who's heard an adult friend reminisce about their Camp Days and maybe even met the odd Camp Friend of Your Friend knows what I mean. I've read some critiques of The Interestings on "who cares?" grounds: "why would I care about a bunch of rich, artsy East Coast liberal Camp Friends navel-gazing their way into middle age?" (*) and maybe it's valid. But for me, it didn't matter: what kept me in ...more
Maryann Macdonald
The idea of this book appealed to me...kids who meet in summer camp outside New York City and stay friends throughout their lives. What would happen to them and their relationships during the thirty-plus years of their lives recorded in this book? Truth be told, I didn't much like the characters or find them interesting as teenagers (although they call themselves "the Interestings," but I assumed they would become interesting as they grew and matured. That's what kept me reading the book, all th ...more
Vanessa
"Jules knew she was cheating by not actually being funny but instead being in the neighborhood of being funny." I think this book is maybe in the neighborhood of Interesting, but isn't, really.

I actually found this a bit ... boring. And it seems like just the sort of book I would like! It's a longish tale about a group of friends who meet in adolescence at an arts camp and then stay friends for the rest of their lives. Their relationships and trials and tribulations play out and the structure
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Jill

The greatest gift that any writer can give her readers is providing them with a fictional world they can immerse – and ultimately lose – themselves in.

That’s precisely what Meg Wolitzer achieves in The Interestings, surely the most fully-realized and satisfying book of her career.

This panoramic saga focuses on a group of Baby Boomers from the time they meet at a camp for the creatively gifted as teenagers through middle age. The bond that draws these divergent characters together is powerful an
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Gary
"On a warm night in early July of that long-evaporated year, the Interestings gathered for the very first time.They were only 15, 16,and then began to call themselves the name with tenative irony."

This is the opening statement of the novel,and frankly, a full synopsis of what the whole story is about...... the whole story is full of the ironies of life. What's expected, what's the true desires of adults that start to linger from the teenage years, and then goes long into adulthood. Desires of w
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Meg Wolitzer is the author of The Ten-Year Nap and seven previous novels, including The Position and The Wife . Her short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize.

Author photo copyright Deborah Copaken.
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More about Meg Wolitzer...
Belzhar The Ten-Year Nap The Uncoupling The Wife The Position

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“But, she knew, you didn’t have to marry your soulmate, and you didn’t even have to marry an Interesting. You didn’t always need to be the dazzler, the firecracker, the one who cracked everyone up, or made everyone want to sleep with you, or be the one who wrote and starred in the play that got the standing ovation. You could cease to be obsessed with the idea of being interesting.” 61 likes
“People could not get enough of what they had lost, even if they no longer wanted it.” 43 likes
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