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The Interestings

by Meg Wolitzer |

REVIEWED BY HELEN ROGAN

NOVEL

It’s a ritual of childhood—that solemn vow never to lose touch, no matter what. And for six artsy teenagers whose lives unfold in Wolitzer’s bighearted, ambitious new novel, the vow holds for almost four decades. “The Interestings,” as they call themselves, come together at a New England summer camp in 1974, worrying about Watergate, bursting with adolescent delight in their shared creative brilliance. But after college they end up in New York City at a time when financial success means everything, and the choices that two couples make in love and career threaten to pull them apart. Jules, an actress turned social worker, lives with her husband in a cramped walk-up apartment, while her eccentric friend Ethan develops an animated TV show that makes him rich and powerful. As the years go by, one of the six has a brush with the Moonies, a gay couple learn to live with AIDS, and a pair of new parents worry about autism. The cultural checklist can get a little wearying; Wolitzer pulls in everything from LSD to sushi to Skype. Still, Boomers in particular will identify with these anxious, engaging people who struggle to live differently from their parents while coming to terms with their own limitations.

Does Jesus Really Love Me?

by Jeff Chu |

REVIEWED BY ROSS DRAKE

NON-FICTION

Disturbed that so many churches deny gay, often-conflicted believers like himself the solace of a place to worship, Chu spent a year exploring the gay Christian experience in America. Many religious groups evade the issue, and for that Chu finds them guilty of moral cowardice and accuses pastors of behaving less like shepherds and more like sheep. His faith in God is secure; less so his willingness to be told whom He loves.

The Mothers

by Jennifer Gilmore |

REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT

NOVEL

Desperate to have a baby after in vitro treatments fail, Jesse, a cancer survivor, and her husband, Ramon, pursue open adoption, an emotionally exhausting process. The bad hand Jesse’s been dealt makes her abrasiveness understandable but hard to bear; Gilmore has a defter touch with Ramon, who wants a child as badly as his wife does but is quieter in his despair. A wrenching examination of parenthood that ends on a hopeful note.

COMMENTS? WRITE TO KIM HUBBARD: bookseditor@peoplemag.com