STARRED REVIEW
June 2016

Hip and aging

By Emma Straub
Emma Straub has been making her mark in the genre of domestic drama—see her 2014 hit, The Vacationers—and her latest has all the necessary elements for a repeat: an appealing cast, interwoven plot lines and an insightful take on the ups and downs of both marital and parent-child relationships.
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Emma Straub has been making her mark in the genre of domestic drama—see her 2014 hit, The Vacationers—and her latest has all the necessary elements for a repeat: an appealing cast, interwoven plot lines and an insightful take on the ups and downs of both marital and parent-child relationships.

Over two decades ago, four Oberlin College students formed a band and achieved a modest amount of local fame. After the band dispersed, Lydia, the lead singer, became famous on her own before dying from an overdose at age 27. Now in their 40s, the other band members—Zoe, Andrew and Elizabeth—all live in Brooklyn: Andrew and Elizabeth are married and have a 17-year-old son; Zoe and her wife, Jane, own a local restaurant and have an 18-year-old daughter.

As Modern Lovers opens, things are not running smoothly among these longtime friends. Elizabeth, a successful real estate broker, is mystified, even after all these years, by Andrew’s lack of commitment to a “normal” vocation. From a wealthy family, he’s never really had to work, and he’s thinking of investing in a shady yoga/health center. Zoe and Jane are seeing a marriage counselor, and they may be close to splitting up. Then a Hollywood producer contacts Elizabeth about buying the rights to a song for an upcoming biopic about Lydia. All three must sign off on the rights, but of course, they can’t agree: one more complication threatening their friendship.

Straub perceptively explores this new phase of her characters’ lives in chapters told from each one’s point of view as they realize they must leave their combined past behind to deal with what lies ahead. Straub weaves their stories together with wit and empathy, creating an engaging read about love in its many guises.

 

This article was originally published in the June 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Modern Lovers

Modern Lovers

By Emma Straub
Riverhead
ISBN 9781594634673

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