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And Then We Grew Up: On Creativity, Potential, and the Imperfect Art of Adulthood
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And Then We Grew Up: On Creativity, Potential, and the Imperfect Art of Adulthood

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  79 ratings  ·  22 reviews
A journey through the many ways to live an artistic life--from the flashy and famous to the quiet and steady--full of unexpected insights about creativity and contentment, from the author of The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost.

Rachel Friedman was a serious violist as a kid. She quit music in college but never stopped fantasizing about what her life might be like if she
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Penguin Books (first published December 31st 2019)
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Laura Mills
Aug 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This was a quick, easy read about coming to terms with the road not taken, and dealing with our American obsession with success. Overall enjoyable and relatable, though I thought some of her points were overdone and she quoted from several mainstream books I had already read, which was a strange experience to have as a reader. I did love her interviews with former artist camp friends, and her observations about their lives were interesting and thoughtfully done. Ultimately I was rooting for the ...more
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, arc, wellness
Author Rachel Friedman grew up playing the violin, and she was very good at it. But when she began studying with the principal violist of the Boston Symphony while in college, she realized she wasn’t nearly as good as her competition. After several months spent lost in a haze of anxiety and self-doubt, she decided to stop working toward a career as a musician and switched her school and major completely.

Flash forward ten years, now Friedman is a freelance writer in New York, relatively
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book hit a nerve for me. I'm a former gifted child and one of those kids who was told she could do anything if she just tried hard enough. Now I'm a 38-year-old with a lot of irons in the fire who still feels like she's not good enough. Friedman was a violist who attended Interlochen, and in this narrative, she follows her fellow students to find out what they have been doing with their creativity and potential. It's easy to judge each of them for "not living up" because everyone has their ...more
Megan Bell
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
For anyone who grew up gifted but ditched violin or poetry (hi!) or sculpture after college and has always wondered, “What if?” Now you’ll be wondering, “Where has AND THEN WE GREW UP been all my (adult) life?” As a child, Rachel Friedman played viola so skillfully she made it into the prestigious Interlochen Arts Camp, but she left her bow behind amid the pressure cooker of college. Now she’s a freelance writer in NYC plagued by old questions about what creative success is supposed to look ...more
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
A bracing read for anyone who grew up in the 80s and was told they were "gifted" or "creative"!
Kylie Mantei
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Friedman’s debut novel, the Good Girl’s Guide To Getting Lost, is one I return to at least two times a year. It is my absolute favourite example of a memoir - she develops her scenes so beautifully that I believe I am there, describes her “characters” in ways that, while often brief, are unique and understanding. I’ve been so excited for this book to be released so that we could see what Rachel’s been up to since, beyond the little snippets of life I found in her other articles and twitter. She ...more
For anyone who has ever referred to their job as a "day-job" or struggled with the gap between reality and expectations (focused on people with a background in the arts, but not too tough to apply some of these insights to other fields). I'm a similar age to the author, with less creative success, but plenty of creative dreams (and different roads not taken in my rear-view mirror) - so it hit a (sensitive) spot for me, but was helpful and encouraging. The author admits that this is very much an ...more
Oct 24, 2019 rated it liked it
If you are looking for a memoir about creativity and childhood dreams long lost (and maybe for a reason), you might relate to Rachel Friedman's, And Then We Grew Up. Friedman evaluates our potential and how this potential translates to success as adults.

Interviewing a series of childhood friends that attended the same prestigious art camp, Friedman sees how they define success and who've they've become. Who held onto their creativity while also making a living from it. Who moved on but managed
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing! I expected that it wouldn’t be something I could relate to very much, seeing as I am not an especially creative person, but having gone through a professional journey of walking away from what I once thought to me my life’s passion, I found this book incredibly enlightening and comforting. The way that the author approaches failure puts words to emotions that anyone can relate to and offers a refreshing approach to accepting change beyond the recently popular approach of ...more
Lisa Wright
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Friedman asks the question: are you a real artist/musician/writer if you don't make a living selling your work? She did everything right, had all the support and perseverance and talent anyone could hope for and still failed to flourish. She wanted to know why and how others had handled their own lack of success. She went to her former campmates to discover that they all handled it differently. She also takes on the Art Monster myth that your art must be the one single-minded thing in your life. ...more
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
And Then We Grew Up... mini biographies of former friends from an exclusive artist's and musician's summer camp for exceptional creatively talented youth are woven together in a research based exploration of growing up. Childhood potential versus the grown child's adult qualities and accomplishments are analyzed and compared to author's own findings and thoughts regarding students' perceived aura of greatness and how this reflects on their future careers and lives.
Alex Rosenfeld
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As someone struggling to let go of the 'writer' identity without losing all the powerful gifts that creativity brings to my life, this book helped me understand what it means to be an 'artist'/'creative' without having to make money off of that pursuit. If you're someone struggling to make it in any art form, or struggling to let go of art as the way you have to make money so that you can move on to a new phase of your life, this book is beautiful and absolutely for you.
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really liked the book. I have never been a creative type of person so I did not regret doing anything and then try and come back to it later. But I think the book has some good life lessons on Potential, Effort and Reward, Failure, Being suited to your calling (I am a caregiver), and not being Ordinary. I think we all good at something and when we know that do that.
Jan 22, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Enjoyed this a lot for the topic as it's something I ponder often. The execution was lacking for me. Sometimes a bit self-indulgent/contrived. But overall , gave me a lot to think about so I am glad I read it.
Matthew Noe
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 but rounded up because this book dovetails so nicely with my other reading about kindness, work, and emotional life.

(I received an advance copy of this from the publisher via a Goodreads giveaway.)
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Exactly the book I needed to read.
Karol Gajda
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I heard the author on Rolf Potts' podcast and immediately got this from the library. This is the first book I've read in a long time where I feel like I need to reread it.
Christine Schwab
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
A quick read that touched on many of my own thoughts. Uplifting!
Carol (Kimiko)
Good book. Hard to put down.
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
1) I really enjoy Friedman's writing. I selfishly hope she continues to write and publish.

2) The topic of this book is so very up my alley.
Shannon Kelly
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is so insightful and surprisingly encouraging. I highly recommend to all former high-achieving kids and anyone who identifies as an artist.
Rebecca Skoch
rated it it was ok
Jan 25, 2020
Amanda Sadler
rated it really liked it
Jan 11, 2020
John Fernaldo
rated it liked it
Jan 18, 2020
Katline Craig
rated it it was amazing
Dec 26, 2019
Lauren Rankin
rated it really liked it
Dec 11, 2019
rated it it was ok
Jan 18, 2020
Claire Vuckovic
rated it it was ok
Jan 12, 2020
Jeanie Tolentino
rated it really liked it
Jan 23, 2020
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“This is the flip side of the soul-sucking cubicle-dweller jobs we assume are where dreams go to die. All those books aimed at convincing you to go follow your passion are based on the assumption that if you do so, your life will automatically be more fulfilling. But then let's say you become an entrepreneur or hit the road with your band or land a gig writing guidebooks that takes you all over the world. You can still discover that--gasp!--it's not all it's cracked up to be. Being fulfilled is all about the day-to-day details, and if that involves schlepping your instrument from one gig to another in order to cobble together a living, it may be that there is no piece of chamber music beautiful enough to save you from your misery. And then you have to be smart enough to change course instead of clinging to some idea of yourself or the thing you wanted.” 0 likes
“It takes grit to persevere, but sometimes it also takes grit to quit, especially when you've wandered pretty far down a path--when you've tied your identity to walking that path in a world where our primary yardstick for measuring success is longevity. [...] It takes courage to quit something you've built your identity around.” 0 likes
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