In our second debut novel review of the week, Alison Espach captures an authentic teen voice coming of age.
The Adults is receiving some nice attention, including a strong review in the February 23rd New York Times Sunday book review. Amazon features a review of the novel by Aryn Kyle, the Alex Award-winning author of The God of Animals (Scribner, 2007).
Adult/High School–Emily Vidal was the mostly quiet, do-the-right thing type when she nervously began high school. But when she was 15 a lot happened to change that. Her father had an affair with the next-door neighbor, and she watched the woman’s husband hang himself from her bedroom window. Her parents divorced. She set fire to the class bully in biology class. She kissed her 24- year-old English teacher and began a years-long affair with him. Under the premature burden of secrets, lies, shame, and guilt, she staggered from the life she imagined into an existence whose meaning and purpose seemed to derive from her acute and snide observations of those around her. The book follows the next 15 years of her life, which reverberate with the consequences of that fateful year. Her passage into adulthood also echoes the poem her English class memorized: T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland. Like that poem, Emily’s narrative is disjointed, sprinkled with opaque passages, foreign phrases, and ample ennui. But it is also teeming with clever insights, witty acerbic dialogue, and a helplessly loving acknowledgement of family quirkiness. Mature teens will find Emily’s voice impeccable. The story is both a captivating read and a challenging fable about the sometimes-haunting impact of adolescent choices.–John Sexton, formerly at Westchester Library System, NY