Book Review | “The Grown-Ups” by Robin Antalek #SRC2015 No.1

Posted Friday, 26 June, 2015 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge 2015

Something quite wicked awesome happened to me this Spring – I had the sweet opportunity to begin hosting for BookSparks which led to my participation in my *1st!* ever #SummerReadingChallenge bonanza of bookish loveliness! I marked my first blog tour with BookSparks with a super wicked historical fiction which touched on every emotional keel a historical novel can yield and then arched back over into such a depth of humanity that I simply found it hard to put the novel down! I’m speaking on behalf of The Sheperdness of Siena!
The beauty about the #SRC2015 challenge is that it is OPEN to readers everywhere – especially those who are following the book bloggers who are a part of the official blog tour of Summer (i.e. most of us are sporting the badges on our blog’s sidebars and/or our social media accounts. Likewise, I included the badges per blog tour I am participating in on my Bookish Events page for quick reference for my regular readers and subscribers!
BookSparks included a nifty bookmark and guide for us to follow and help inspire our Summer Reading Challenge journey! On the list, I am focusing mostly on *three!* key things: using photography to help showcase the books as they arrive in by my local library (see this post for explanation) and via postal mail; tweeting using the #SRC2015 as I am reading *each!* novel (there are 10 total!) I selected to read and review during the blog tours; and I am posting a review on a pre-determined schedule of my choosing! I have dates lined up starting right now in late June and ending in early September!

#SRC2015 Goals of participation provided by BookSparks and used with permission.

I fell slightly behind on my in-between review post updates due to my back-to-back illnesses, which is why I am going to be back-posting approx. 3-4 ’10 Bookish, Not Bookish Thoughts’ to chart my journey with the reading challenge inasmuch as share the bookish and non-bookish joys that have alighted in my life since my first entry posted on 14th of May! From here on out, on *Thursdays!* there will be a new post arriving filled with #SRC2015 news!
I elected to participate on Twitter and Riffle as compliments to my bookish blog as I do appreciate being connected to other social readers, however, other plausible networks simply weren’t my cuppa tea. Part of my future entries of ’10 Bookish, Not Bookish Thoughts’ will be scouting out other wicked sweet entries of the book bloggers who are uploading keenly awesome content and supporting all the lovely authors who were selected in this year’s showcase! Due stay tuned not only to my blog but my bookishly delightful tweets, as you never know which book I will be #currentlyreading and thereby, sharing my readerly reactions as I make my way through Summer! I encourage you to tweet me back and/or leave comments on each #SRC2015 threaded post on my blog! Let’s converse about the stories we’re reading in common and our conjoined thoughts and reactions therein!
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Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Borrowed Book from my local library: I originally found BookSparks PR last Spring, when I came upon the Summer Reading Challenge a bit too late in the game. I hadn’t forgotten about it, and was going to re-contact them this Spring to see if I could join the challenge this year instead. Coincidentally, before I sorted this out, I was contacted by one of their publicists about Linda Lafferty’s Renaissance historical novel, “The Sheperdess of Siena”. 

At the time when I was confirmed to be a part of the #SRC2015 official blog tour schedule, we were not able to get confirmation on which books we selected to review on our respective blogs would be sent to us by the publishers and/or publicist at BookSparks, thereby I submitted purchase requests at my local library for all *10!* books I selected to read and review.

I elected to read “The Grown-Ups” via my local library, as they purchased this novel ahead of my submission of requests; the novel arrived into my local library ahead of further confirmation and postal mail via #SRC2015. By participating in the #SRC2015 challenge I am reading the novels in exchange for my honest reviews; whether I am receiving a complimentary copy or borrowing them through my local library. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Book Review | “The Grown-Ups” by Robin Antalek #SRC2015 No.1The Grown-Ups
by Robin Antalek
Source: Borrowed from local library
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell

Genres: Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

Published by William Morrow

on 27th January, 2015

Format: P.S. Edition Paperback, Audiobook Excerpt | SoundCloud

Length: 11 hours, 46 minutes

Pages: 384

written by Robin Antalek | Site | @robinantalek | Facebook

Published By: William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)
Available Formats: P.S. Edition paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

Converse via: #TheGrownUps & #SRC2015

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My selection process for #SRC2015:

When I joined the #SRC2015 blog tour, I wanted to select stories that not only would challenge my mind but be of the cut of fiction that would stand out to me as inspiring and inventive story-telling. The selections I decided to make were towards the writers whose novels were underlit by themes that gave me a hearty entreaty to characters whose lives either broke out of the norm or took me a full step outside the sphere of where I regularly alight in my reading queue.

The Grown-Ups sounded like the quintessential multi-generational saga with a unique coming-of age spin to it wherein the story is rooted in the in-between hours of finding characters on the impetus of becoming who they would be as adults. I happen to have a penchant for multiple POV novels, as each alternating voice lends a different perspective on the whole.

My Review of The Grown-Ups:

Ironically or not, even if by design of fate – the day I picked up The Grown-Ups I had recently emerged out a Summer (cold) virus which lasted just over a week and took another week to recover outright from before I could honestly say I was more ‘myself’ than whomever I became whilst ill. To have the opening pages of a novel reaffirm how horrid Summer viruses are and how difficult they are to overcome had me smiling at the irony life had presented me!

Listening to an excerpt from the audiobook of a novel is a personal joy of mine – Ms Campbell effectively captured the meloncholic opening of the novel adding a bit of a Southern presence to the narrator’s voice as a way of casting a mood representative of the reality the mothers in the novel are facing whilst their teenagers have fallen ill quite repetitiously after each other! Adolescents have a way of sharing germs and fevers quite quickly due to their habit of foregoing all logic and sense in regards to sharing food and drinks; even in my own childhood and adolescence this was a problem with girls giving each other Mono. I dodged the bullet myself by a straw! Quite literally would have shifted my entire sophomore year if I had caught it – although in retrospect it would have forced my high school to let me study at home, which is something I would have given anything to do! Teenagers who can study via K12 have no idea how blessed they are to have a public school option that allows you the grace of working at your own pace whilst outside the closed shoppe structure of school. I digress.

Antalek elects to set this setting with a backdrop of motherly compassion and despair in equal measure as the children all live within a short proximity of each other; re-pleasant of Brooklyn or the Bronx, where everyone on a given block is cognisant of each others lives. Part of me felt this was 1957 not 1997 at the point of origin because it’s atypical an entire block would still receive regular deliveries of milk or at least to me, this felt strange for a late 90s set novel. There are fresh dairy deliveries still happening even now in the 21st Century as you will find refrigerated trucks trolling through main streets and highways, but the regularity of it felt like a turning back to a different era. Similarly I did not instinctively feel this novel was set in the Northeast but rather the Southeast; when you click play on the excerpt via SoundCloud you will denote what I felt as I read Chapter 1.

I read the first several chapters of the novel when I realised the story wasn’t warming up to me in the way I had hoped it might have. The coming-of age portion of the novel took an upturnt direction towards the somber as the lead character whose focused on in the beginning is the byproduct of a divorce which never happened. Lost and isolated from her childhood friends in a city and school she didn’t fit inside, Suzie was recklessly attempting to find a way to fit in with a measure of acceptance and love absent from her parental home. This in of itself was a traditional trajectory to give a coming-of age tale but it’s the method in which the story unfolds with the blunt rawness of the scenes themselves that just didn’t josh well with me.

I could not shake the darkening undertone – of how it felt as if the underscore of the novel was set to such a depressive state of darkening clouds where nothing you could do would erase the muck of a mess your life was slowly spiraling inside. I felt badly for Suzie; not just to be exposed to a situation where her parents wouldn’t divorce to save the children’s anguish of a conflicted childhood but because Suzie herself was attempting to raise herself on her own merits without any heed of an idea of how to become a grown-up. And, perhaps that’s part of the point of the novel, but I simply wasn’t enticed to continue reading it.

Fly in the Ointment:

There is a nefarious undertone threading like a ribbon through the narrative of The Grown-Ups, almost as if there is a darker motive to the story itself. The characters are at a cross-roads in their lives which goes without question there would be tension mounting through emotion and circumstances that lend themselves to character growth, but knitted inside those moments was this foreboding ‘something’ which undertook some of the curiosity for me away from the story-line.

The inclusion of strong language was a bit of a red flag for me, as although I have a tolerance for certain words, I am not akin to appreciating the strength of vulgarity used for idle conversational exchanges nor to have words peppered through a Women’s Fiction novel merely for effect or for a reason that isn’t as conducive to the telling of the story. I find most instances of vulgarity are unnecessary and unwanted. My tolerance drops when the worst of the pack are used with such consistency as to accidentally drink a triple espresso shot of java when you only ordered an Americano Misto.

The further I read into the novel, my opinion of the timescape kept changing as due to the drug experimentation and the near-sexual revolution happening inside the lives of the characters, I’d have marked this down to have taken place in the 1960s or the 1970s far more than I would have accepted this as a novel of the 90s. Despite the fact the novel had an identity crisis of both time and place, it does remain true to itself in regards to what your expecting a novel to produce when it follows these cues from it’s writer.

What I loved about the P.S. Edition extra bits:

The author included her writerly playlist of songs and gave definitive reasons for each of the selections she had chosen to listen to as a back-drop to her creating this novel. I find this interesting on several levels because writers are curious sorts – we like to have something on in the background whilst we’re creating this ‘elsewhere world’ where our imaginations give light to characters and situations bent against our own life experiences. Yet, somewhere in that nexus of creativity we itch to find a resonatation with a musical tonality that gives flight to where our words are attempting to take our stories.

Not surprisingly, most of her selections are from the 60s & 70s – a throw-back to the singer-songwriters and rock n’ roll musicians who defined the generation. This might be what I was picking up on in the context of the novel itself — I was seeing the story as it was writ rather than how it was published and marketed. The internal clock of the novel was set against a back-drop of angst ridden music which belted out an awareness of the angst that is betwixt adolescence and adulthood; the verge of space where your not quite grown and yet your no longer a child.

Even the selections drifting through the 80s and 90s, carried this central theme through their core as they were selections between alternative rock and ska. Bands which thrived on the emotional tidal-waves of your growing years where cranking up the volume was a necessary option towards understanding the lyrics. It was an interesting window into Antalek’s writer’s life and a keen insight into how this novel lost it’s own identity within time and setting.

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This book review is courtesy of: BookSparks

{ click the banner for more information on #SRC2015! }

#SRC2015 BookSparks Blog Tour Banner provided for the tour hosts and used with permission.

Readers | Books Bloggers : Impressions of The Grown-Ups via #SRC2015:

{ a quick search + the twitterverse provided me the road map! }

This is not an ordered list as I simply found links in succession of each other. There are supposedly close to 50 book bloggers per title during #SRC2015; therefore this is an abridged list of reviewers. This doesn’t count the fact the reading challenge is open to the public for those who are either borrowing the books via their local libraries and/or purchasing copies outright to read and review for their own edification and joy. Be sure to follow the #SRC2015 tag on Twitter to find more opinions.

The Grown-Ups by Robin Antalek | Julie Valerie’s Blog

The Grown-Ups by Robin Antalek | vvb32 Reads

Review: The Grown-Ups by Robin Antalek | BookNAround

#SRC2015 The Grown-Ups by Robin Antalek | Mrs. Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews

Book Review: The Grown-Ups by Robin Antalek | Uptite Mamas

The Grown-Ups by Robin Antalek| Walley’s Book Reviews

#SRC2015 Review: The Grown-Ups by Robin Antalek | A Bookish Affair

Summer Reading Challenge: The Grown-Ups | Every Free Chance Books

The Grown-Ups by Robin Antalek | A Nurse and A Book

The Grown-Ups by Robin Antalek: Summer Reading Challenge | Jen in Bookland

Review: The Grown-Ups | OnDBookShelf

Review: The Grown-Ups by Robin Antalek| A Southern Girl’s Bookshelf

#SRC2015 The Grown-Ups by Robin Antalek | Just Another Girl and her Books

The Grown-Ups by Robin Antalek | Read Baby Read


A lovely interview with Robin Analek about The Grown-Ups!

You will find further reviews via the Tasty Book Tours run of The Grown-Ups & TLC Book Tours run of The Grown-Ups where more reader impressions can be found on their respective blog tour pages!

Be sure to visit my Bookish Events for (2015)
to see what I’m hosting next during #SRC2015!

Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva.

{SOURCES: The #SRC2015 badges (“The Grown-Ups” blog tour, Jane Green as Host of #SRC2015 and the regular ‘blog tour’) and the #SRC2015 bookmark were all provided by BookSparks and used with permission. Book photography of “The Grown-Ups” was encouraged to be taken by book bloggers who are participating in #SRC2015 by the publicists at BookSparks; original photography taken by Jorie. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Book Excerpt was able to be embedded due to codes provided by SoundCloud. Buy links on SoundCloud are not affiliated with Jorie Loves A Story. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

I’m a social reader, tweeting as I read | Share if Inspired:

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #SRC2015 | BookSparks

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Friday, 26 June, 2015 by jorielov in #SRC2015 | BookSparks, 20th Century, Audiobook, Audiobook Excerpt, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, BookSparks, Brothers and Sisters, Coming-Of Age, Contemporary Romance, Disillusionment in Marriage, Family Drama, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters, Fly in the Ointment, Life Shift, Modern Day, Realistic Fiction, Soundcloud, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Fiction

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