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All Adults Here
Cover of All Adults Here
All Adults Here
A Novel
Borrow Borrow
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
A TODAY SHOW #ReadWithJenna BOOK CLUB PICK!
"In a time when all we want is hope, it’s a beautiful book to reach for." -Jenna Bush Hager

“Literary sunshine.”—New York Times
“The queen of the summer novel.”—Entertainment Weekly

"Brimming with kindness, forgiveness, humor and love and yet (magically) also a page turner that held me captive until it was finished. This is Emma Straub's absolute best and the world will love it. I love it." Ann Patchett

 
“An immensely charming and warmhearted book. It’s a vacation for the soul.”—Vox

A warm, funny, and keenly perceptive novel about the life cycle of one family—as the kids become parents, grandchildren become teenagers, and a matriarch confronts the legacy of her mistakes. From the New York Times bestselling author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers.

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she'd been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence?
Astrid's youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own. Her daughter is pregnant yet struggling to give up her own adolescence. And her eldest seems to measure his adult life according to standards no one else shares. But who gets to decide, so many years later, which long-ago lapses were the ones that mattered? Who decides which apologies really count? It might be that only Astrid's thirteen-year-old granddaughter and her new friend really understand the courage it takes to tell the truth to the people you love the most.
In All Adults Here, Emma Straub's unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.
AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR
A TODAY SHOW #ReadWithJenna BOOK CLUB PICK!
"In a time when all we want is hope, it’s a beautiful book to reach for." -Jenna Bush Hager

“Literary sunshine.”—New York Times
“The queen of the summer novel.”—Entertainment Weekly

"Brimming with kindness, forgiveness, humor and love and yet (magically) also a page turner that held me captive until it was finished. This is Emma Straub's absolute best and the world will love it. I love it." Ann Patchett

 
“An immensely charming and warmhearted book. It’s a vacation for the soul.”—Vox

A warm, funny, and keenly perceptive novel about the life cycle of one family—as the kids become parents, grandchildren become teenagers, and a matriarch confronts the legacy of her mistakes. From the New York Times bestselling author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers.

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she'd been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence?
Astrid's youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own. Her daughter is pregnant yet struggling to give up her own adolescence. And her eldest seems to measure his adult life according to standards no one else shares. But who gets to decide, so many years later, which long-ago lapses were the ones that mattered? Who decides which apologies really count? It might be that only Astrid's thirteen-year-old granddaughter and her new friend really understand the courage it takes to tell the truth to the people you love the most.
In All Adults Here, Emma Straub's unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.
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  • From the book

    Chapter 1

    The Quick Death

    Astrid Strick had never liked Barbara Baker, not for a single day of their forty-year acquaintance, but when Barbara was hit and killed by the empty, speeding school bus at the intersection of Main and Morrison streets on the eastern side of the town roundabout, Astrid knew that her life had changed, the shock of which was indistinguishable from relief. It was already a busy day-she'd spent the morning in the garden, she had a haircut appointment at 11:30, and then her granddaughter, Cecelia, was arriving by train with two suitcases and zero parents (no school bus accidents there-just a needed escape hatch), and Astrid was to meet her at the Clapham station to bring her back to the Big House.

    The bus hit Barbara just after eleven. Astrid was sitting in her parked car on the inner lane of the roundabout, the verdant circle at the center of town, adjusting her hair in the mirror. It was always the way, wasnÕt it, that oneÕs hair always looked best on the day of a scheduled trim. She didnÕt wash her hair at home unless theyÕd gone to the beach, or she had been swimming in chlorinated water, or some foreign substance (paint, glue) was accidentally lobbed in her direction. No, Birdie Gonzalez washed AstridÕs hair every Monday and had done so for five years, before which it had been washed by Nancy, at the same salon, Shear Beauty, which was located on the southeastern side of the roundabout, in the quarter circle between the Clapham Credit Union and SusanÕs Bookshop, kitty-corner from SpiroÕs Pancake House, if you peered through the open sides of the white wooden gazebo at the grassy islandÕs center. The professional hair washing was a relic from her motherÕs generation, and an affectation that her own mother had not possessed, and yet, there it was. It was not a pricey indulgence, if weighed against the cost of proper conditioner. On every eighth Monday, Birdie also gave Astrid a trim. Nancy had given slightly better haircuts, but Birdie was better with the shampoo, and Astrid had never been vain, only practical. Anyway, Nancy had retired and Astrid hadnÕt missed her. Birdie was from Texas, and her parents were from Mexico, and Astrid thought of her as human sunshine: bright, warm, sometimes harsh, but always good for oneÕs mood.

    It was the end of the summer, which meant that soon, from Monday to Friday, Clapham would belong to the year-rounders again. Kids would go back to school, and the summer inhabitants would go back to being weekend inhabitants, and life would return to its quieter pace. Astrid inspected her skin for spots. Ticks and skin cancer were the twin fears of anyone who spent time outdoors in the Hudson Valley, certainly for those over the age of twenty-five. In the rearview mirror, Astrid watched Clapham go about its morning routines: women with rolled-up yoga mats plodded slowly out of the municipal hall, well-off summer residents strolled the sidewalks, looking for something to buy that they had somehow missed during the last three months, locals sat drinking coffee at the counter at Spiro's and at Croissant City, where every sixty-five-year-old man in Clapham could be found with a newspaper at 7:30 a.m., seven days a week. Frank, who owned the hardware store, which sold everything from window fans and fresh eggs to batteries and a small collection of DVDs, was standing beneath his awning as his teenage son pulled up the iron gate. The small shops that sold T-shirts and sweatshirts that read clapham in large block letters didn't open until noon. The fanciest clothing store on Main Street, Boutique Etc?,...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 3, 2020
    In Straub’s witty, topical fourth novel (after Modern Lovers), members of a Hudson Valley family come to terms with adolescence, aging, sexuality, and gender. After 68-year-old widow Astrid Strick witnesses an acquaintance get struck and killed by a bus in the center of Clapham, N.Y., she feels compelled to come clean with her children about her new relationship with Birdie, the local hairdresser, before it's too late (“there were always more school buses,” she reasons). Astrid’s kids have their own issues to contend with. Thirty-seven-year-old Porter, pregnant via a “stud farm” (aka a sperm bank), is having an affair with her old high school boyfriend, while Elliott, the oldest, is preoccupied with a hush-hush business proposal. Nicky, the youngest, and his wife have shipped their only child, 13-year-old Cecilia, up to live with Astrid after a messy incident at her Brooklyn school involving online pedophilia. Despite Cecilia’s fear of not fitting in, she finds friendship with a boy who longs to be recognized as a girl but isn’t ready to come out as trans. As per usual, Straub’s writing is heartfelt and earnest, without tipping over the edge. There are a lot of issues at play here (abortion, bullying, IVF, gender identity, sexual predators) that Straub easily juggles, and her strong and flawed characters carry the day. This affecting family saga packs plenty of punch.

  • Kirkus

    March 1, 2020
    When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus run over a longtime acquaintance of hers--Barbara Baker, a woman she doesn't like very much--it's only the beginning of the shake-ups to come in her life and the lives of those she loves. Astrid has been tootling along contentedly in the Hudson Valley town of Clapham, New York, a 68-year-old widow with three grown children. After many years of singlehood since her husband died, she's been quietly seeing Birdie Gonzalez, her hairdresser, for the past two years, and after Barbara's death she determines to tell her children about the relationship: "There was no time to waste, not in this life. There were always more school buses." Elliot, her oldest, who's in real estate, lives in Clapham with his wife, Wendy, who's Chinese American, and their twins toddlers, Aidan and Zachary, who are "such hellions that only a fool would willingly ask for more." Astrid's daughter, Porter, owns a nearby farm producing artisanal goat cheese and has just gotten pregnant through a sperm bank while having an affair with her married high school boyfriend. Nicky, the youngest Strick, is disconcertingly famous for having appeared in an era-defining movie when he was younger and now lives in Brooklyn with his French wife, Juliette, and their daughter, Cecelia, who's being shipped up to live with Astrid for a while after her friend got mixed up with a pedophile she met online. As always, Straub (Modern Lovers, 2016, etc.) draws her characters warmly, making them appealing in their self-centeredness and generosity, their insecurity and hope. The cast is realistically diverse, though in most ways it's fairly superficial; the fact that Birdie is Latina or Porter's obstetrician is African American doesn't have much impact on the story or their characters. Cecelia's new friend, August, wants to make the transition to Robin; that storyline gets more attention, with the two middle schoolers supporting each other through challenging times. The Stricks worry about work, money, sex, and gossip; Straub has a sharp eye for her characters' foibles and the details of their liberal, upper-middle-class milieu. With humor and insight, Straub creates a family worth rooting for.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from March 1, 2020
    The sudden death of a frenemy, hit by a school bus, knocks widowed Strick family matriarch Astrid's own life slightly off course. Her granddaughter, middle-schooler Cecelia, arrives from Brooklyn, escaping friend drama for a school year in Astrid's small Hudson Valley town. Just in time, it turns out, for Astrid to announce to the whole family that her best friend, Birdie, is much more than that: she is her lover. Porter, Astrid's daughter, harbors her own exciting secret. As in Straub's (Modern Lovers, 2016) other novels, the joy is in the setup, and, in a way, it's all setup. As Astrid gathers the courage to apologize to her oldest son, Elliott, for a long-ago wrong, Elliott's concerns are altogether elsewhere. As these and other characters in the multigenerational cast confront milestones of many measures, including a sweet arc for Cecelia's transgender best friend, Straub etches in the comforting, often funny truths readers love her for. Like us, her characters are always getting older but never feeling quite old enough to do the right thing, to be the people they want to be, to let go of the past, and they're certainly never ready to die. An all-out celebration of the life force in ourselves and in our families.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Straub's novels are dearly beloved, and this might be her best yet.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

  • Library Journal

    December 1, 2019

    Witnessing a school bus accidents prompts Astrid Strick to think about how she raised her own children, and she decides she wasn't quite the mother she had thought. Now, her older son sets himself impossibly high standards, her pregnant daughter can't shake off adolescence, and her younger son is flubbing life and parenting himself. Which mistakes were just human, which apologies are owed?

    Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2020

    Life is usually pretty tranquil in Clapham, a small Hudson Valley town that gets a fair share of summer tourists, but Astrid Strick is badly shaken up after she witnesses a school bus accident involving a longtime acquaintance. She's been a widow for years, and her three adult children find her somewhat distant. Now she decides it's time to reveal a big secret in her life. Her daughter Porter has a secret of her own, a torrid affair with a former (married) boyfriend, though she is pregnant thanks to an anonymous sperm donor. Older son Elliot and his wife are trying to cope with hyperactive toddler twins, while younger son Nicky, who lives in Brooklyn, has sent daughter Cecelia to live with her grandmother for a while. The title is ironic in that 13-year-old Cecelia often seems to be more adult than her parents or her aunt and uncle. VERDICT In this engaging novel, Straub (The Vacationers) explores the ups and downs of a somewhat disaffected 21st-century family with warmth, sympathy, and humor. [See Prepub Alert, 4/11/19.]--Leslie Patterson, Rehoboth, MA

    Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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