When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she’d been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence?
Astrid’s youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own. Her daughter is intentionally pregnant yet struggling to give up her own adolescence. And her eldest seems to measure his adult life according to standards no one else shares. But who gets to decide, so many years later, which long-ago lapses were the ones that mattered? Who decides which apologies really count? It might be that only Astrid’s thirteen-year-old granddaughter and her new friend really understand the courage it takes to tell the truth to the people you love the most.
In All Adults Here, Emma Straub’s unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.
All Adults Here is a book that addresses many themes, and does it in an honest way – characters discuss and are exposed to a lot of different issues (which I won’t list here, incase I spoil some of the story) without overdramatisation or insincerity. I think Emma Straub addresses them all well.
I really liked most of the characters, despite their faults – or perhaps because of their faults, as it shows they were human and believable as people – but the plot felt a little confused to me. I really enjoyed the storyline about August, and how it was addressed, and the new and very different (for her) relationship that Astrid has entered into, but I felt like a lot of the rest of the story failed to truly grasp my attention (though I still found it interesting enough). Perhaps there was just too much going on…
However I was also aware that this perfectly depicted the often messy, confused nature of life, relationships and families, something I do feel this book does really well. It’s still a solid, enjoyable read and I really like Emma Straub’s writing style, but I think the plot just didn’t grasp me quite as much as I expected.
Many thanks to the publisher, Michael Joseph, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.