All Adults Here — Emma Straub [REVIEW]

  • Date Read: June 5, 2020
  • Rating: 5/5
  • Format: E-book

A visceral story of an aging mother, her three adult children, and their children, All Adults Here will have readers reliving their child- and young adulthoods and the way they relate to those dearest in their lives.

The Strick family has its challenges and dysfunctions, just like any other: Elliot holds himself to impossible standards, Nicky’s daughter is being bullied in school, Porter is struggling to relinquish the follies of her youth, and Astrid, their mother, is wondering whether she was really ever the parent she thought she was. When Astrid witnesses a traumatic event in the center of their small town, she’s launched into a reflective journey, in which she develops the courage to make amends with her children and speak up for herself.

Perhaps Astrid’s growing courage is reflective of the author herself; Straub has created beautifully defined and flawed characters and doesn’t shy away from important topics like gender and sexuality, the power balance in a marriage, and just how much of their parents people carry from childhood into adulthood. She approaches these subjects with such graceful determination, making no apologies and sharing timely and meaningful concepts in a very approachable way.

I am not a reader who believes that the power in art lies in exclusivity. In fact, I’d support quite the contrary. The power in literature, art, theatre, etc. is in accessibility. The fine arts are instrumental (pun intended, not sorry!) tools in educating and connecting with a vast population because they speak to a person both intellectually and emotionally. This is something I think Straub beautifully accomplishes in All Adults Here; she creates this world in which the reader could so easily and seamlessly insert oneself. In this world, we get to know Augustus. We revisit teenage troubles through the precocious and responsible eyes of Cecelia. We watch Elliot lash out, and we see Porter make a poor choice, and so on and so on, because this world is not perfect, and we appreciate it all the more for it. Straub shines a light on certain realities hidden in plain sight in each of our own communities.

The fine arts are instrumental tools in educating and connecting with a vast population because they speak to a person both intellectually and emotionally.

All Adults Here is, quite easily, the best book I’ve read in a long time. This had me reminiscing on my (not too distant) youth and considering the way it’s formed my (burgeoning) adulthood, and its sentimentality isn’t a cloying or cliche one. All Adults Here feels simply real. I recommend this absolutely, and especially to fans of Anne Tyler or Celeste Ng.

If you’ve read this one, I’d love to hear your thoughts below! Find All Adults Here here, or at your local library, or if you’re unable to get to the library, try this indie bookstore finder from IndieBound!

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