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All Grown Up Hardcover – 6 Apr 2017
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Hilarious, courageous and mesmerizing from page one, ALL GROWN UP is a little gem that packs a devastating wallop. It's that rare book I'm dying to give all my friends so we can discuss it deep into the night. I'm in awe of Jami Attenberg. (Maria Semple, author of Where'd You Go Bernadette)
One of the smartest and truest novels I've read about being a single woman (Hadley Freeman Guardian)
Jami Attenberg has written her frankest, funniest, and most riveting and heartbreaking book yet. In Andrea, she has created a character women will be talking about for years; she has opened the door for us to see ourselves in literature in a new way, writing with skill and fearlessness few others can match (Emily Gould, author of Friendship)
Is all life junk - sparkly and seductive and devastating - just waiting to be told correctly by someone who will hold our hand and walk with us a while confirming that what we're living is true. This is a good proud urban book, a sad and specific blast for the fearless to read. Thank you Jami. (Eileen Myles, author of Chelsea Girls)
What a voice. Honest and hilarious, unflinching and unapologetic, Jami Attenberg writes what it is to be single, sexual, and childfree by choice. I read the first page of ALL GROWN UP and knew the novelist was going to outdo herself. I am happy to report that she most certainly did (Helen Ellis, author of American Housewife)
The literature of sex and the single woman has been in the doldrums since Carrie got married and Bridget had her baby, so three cheers for this warts-and-all portrait of a woman trying to find her place in the world and in her own nuclear family now she is all grown up ... This is a novel about how to step up when your smug married friend suddenly gets divorced, or when your annoying mum really needs you; about "being there" for people when you don't even know where "there" is. It has hope, in spades. (Katy Guest Guardian 2017-04-01)
Think BBC's Fleabag set in Brooklyn ... Attenberg has a compassionate eye for the gulfs that open between people, and how they can be bridged. (Stylist)
Expect to see a copy on every sunlounger this summer. (Vogue)
I have never in my life finished the last page of a book and wanted to open to page one and start all over again. Jami Attenberg, this book is outstanding (Attica Locke)
Jami Attenberg's Andrea is the most addicting female protagonist voice I have read in years, with her cutting observations on human relationships. This witty journey through a mess of men, female friendships, family and boozy urban existence positions the single girl not as object to be fixed but as contemporary sage and seer: the ultimate witness of truth in love today (Melissa Broder, author of So Sad Today)
Tackles what it means to be an adult with reassuring confidence. It's such an amusing, piercing read ... A refreshing, utterly liberating take on female singledom. (Francesca Brown Stylist 2017-06-07)
"All Grown Up is one of those rare books -even the greatest writers often only get one or two in their careers- in which an author's unique sensibility meets with the story she was born to tell. This fractured, soulful portrait of a determinedly independent woman -a woman whose radical independence often puts her at odds with a misunderstanding society- is vital reading for women and men alike." (Stefan Merrill Block, author of The Story of Forgetting and The Storm at the Door)
Jami Attenberg's sharply drawn protagonist, Andrea, has such a riveting, propulsive voice that ALL GROWN UP is hard to put down, but I urge you to resist reading it in one sitting. Both the prose and the author's knowing excavation of one woman's desires, compromises, strengths and fears deserve closer attention. Like Andrea herself, this novel is beautiful and brutal, intelligent and funny, frank and sexy (Cynthia D'Aprix McSweeney, author of New York Times bestselling The Nest)
Jami Attenberg's ALL GROWN UP is one part Denis Johnson, one part Grace Paley, but all her. Every sentence pulls taut and glows--electric, gossipy, searing fun that is also a map to how to be more human. (Alexander Chee, author of The Queen of the Night)
Andrea, 39, is totally single. No kids, no men, nothing keeping her from living her life to its full potential, which she does. Until her niece is born with a tragic illness, and Andrea's whole family is forced to confront their values, their lifestyles, and their choices. Told in vignettes, All Grown Up asks what happens after you've got the whole "adult" thing under control. (Glamour, 'Best Books to Read in 2017')
Smart, heartfelt, and really freakin' funny. (Sara Novic Elle.com, '25 Most Anticipated Books by Women for 2017')
Deeply perceptive and dryly hilarious, Attenberg's latest novel follows Andrea Bern: on the cusp of 40, single, child-free by choice, and reasonably content, she's living a life that still, even now, bucks societal conventions. . . . Structured as a series of addictive vignettes-they fly by if you let them, though they deserve to be savored-the novel is a study not only of Andrea, but of her entire ecosystem. . . .Wry, sharp, and profoundly kind; a necessary pleasure. (Kirkus Reviews (Starred))
Andrea's story is stinging, sweet, and remarkably fleshed out in relatively few pages. Attenberg follows her best-selling family novel, The Middlesteins (2012) with a creative, vivid tableau of one woman's whole life, which almost can't help but be a comment on all the things women ought to be and to want, which Attenberg conveys with immense, aching charm (Booklist (Starred))
Attenberg is one of our finest contemporary storytellers, and here, with her trademark clever, witty voice, she tackles the age-old question plaguing people of all ages: When do we know if we're actually all grown up? (Nylon)
Attenberg knows how to make a reader laugh and feel. This novel takes a hard look at what it means to be a woman living on her own terms. (Martha Stewart Living 'Page-Turners For 2017')
Positively bristles with energy and newness ... Attenberg has created a tangle of characters with flesh on their bones, and Andrea is the most multifaceted of them all ... a delight and a superb character study. (Tanya Sweeney Sunday Business Post)
Sharply funny ... I didn't want Andrea as a best friend, but I felt enriched by her take on the world. (Financial Times)
If you ever feel like you're howling into the abyss and would prefer to howl with laughter instead, you should befriend Andrea Bern of All Grown Up, as she certainly shares your pain. (Evening Standard)
Attenberg writes with a scalpel, and has presented one of the finest, and most unexpected, character studies you're likely to read all year. (Tanya Sweeney Irish Independent 2017-04-23)
Jami Attenberg's fifth novel is her best yet... super smart, often extremely funny.. as angry, sad, and raw as it is astute, hilarious and hopeful. All Grown Up puts other novels in this vein to shame. (Lucy Scholes The Observer 2017-04-23)
An enthralling confession of a woman contending with the outside world's expectations of who she should beSee all Product description
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Her life is spread eagled across the pages for the reader to pick over. Each chapter is a snapshot of an episode in her life, whether it is looking back over some of her chaotic childhood years – Dad was a drug user who died too early; Mum, once on her own again, runs bi-monthly dinner parties in the 1990s attended by only men, who of course try and hit on Andrea, a teenager at the time; or whether it is an examination of her relationships with her friends, lovers and acquaintances who pass through her life now.
Her Mother thinks marriage is “a beautiful idea” but Andrea is clear that it is not an institution for her. Her best friend and yoga teacher Indigo has had a baby, lives in a lovely loft apartment but Andrea’s bristling distaste of the set-up is palpable on the page. And that is what this author does really well, she can write, she can conjure up atmospheres, feelings and responses, and she can describe the desolation of someone who is ploughing their way through life, pitted against adversity and against societal “norms”.
Andrea also has a brother who in turn has a daughter, only tiny, who was born with a congenital problem and her life expectancy is only around four years. Yet, our self absorbed protagonist (there! I said it at last! Andrea is very much part of single life in the cityof the ‘me’ culture) does not really visit to offer support because she is so wrapped up in her own world. She simply does not have the resources to offer a worthwhile helping hand to others. She is anxiously attached to her Mother (not surprising given her childhood experiences), and she can’t bear that her Mother abandons her in the city, yet conversely longs to have a better relationship with her. She often finds herself spurning the intimacy of others offering the hand of friendship.
This is an interesting read, on-point in many ways – it smacks of New York and of lives lived in the city, Freudian Angst, neuroses and all the shtick of metropolitan Manhattan. But I think I would only really like to encounter Andrea on a future occasion once she has regrouped and worked once more with her therapist (who was fired halfway through the narrative) and addressed her growling anger (which must be draining for her, but is also draining, sapping, for the reader too). Towards the end of the book, however, without giving away any spoilers, there seems to be some honing of her sharp and dissonant character, so there is hope of a more accepting and less angry person in the next chapter of her life. Her existence in many ways is portrayed as ‘bitter and edgy” and at times feels rather soulless. It’s all very depressingly 21st Century….
I felt a tad envious of Andrea’s flat, her career and her social whirl. She seems to be able to achieve financial independence and then some with minimal effort, other than staying resolutely single and childless. But was the driving force behind this her own mother’s need to provide for the family when the dysfunctional father passes away? How much is programmed into us before we attain adulthood? Two more for the book club. Is Andrea one of these people who feels she doesn’t deserve to be happy? Is she afraid that she’ll get too dependent upon somebody and he will let her down? More questions for the book club.
There is much to applaud here. The writing is clear, concise and no-nonsense. I had a few problems with the drinking and therapy. I felt Andrea needed to address the booze rather than find different ways of explaining what it was exactly she wanted from life, the world, and any potential partner.
More questions for the book club: Does every girl secretly want to get married? Or is that something programmed in from an early age? I tried to explore these ideas in my reviews of Cinderella and My Best Friend’s Wedding. Please look at these if interested. Another book which might appeal is Mina Ford’s My Fake Wedding.
I probably romped through All Grown Up too quickly. It certainly benefits from a second reading, and I hope there will be a sequel, as I have invested an emotional attachment to Andrea and her charming family. Highly recommended.
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