Modern Lovers
by Emma Straub
Hardcover- $14.56

An NPR Best Book of 2016
An Entertainment Weekly Best Book of 2016
A Slate Best Book of the Year
A Washington ...

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  "The book presents an interesting perspective on responsible parenting and marriage across a wide spectrum of characters." by thewanderingjew (see profile) 06/13/16

Modern Lovers, Emma Straub, author; Jen Tullock, narrator
This book is aptly titled. It covers heterosexual love, homosexual love and teenage love in the modern world of today where the rules governing basic values, morality and ethics have definitely morphed into a different species. It is a world that is more accommodating and accepting of different lifestyles and behaviors.
Three college friends who were once in a band called Kitty’s Mustache, are now 40 somethings living near each other in the modest Brooklyn neighborhood called Ditmas Park. Elizabeth and Andrew Marx are married. They are an interfaith couple. They have one child named Harry. Elizabeth is a realtor, but once she was the singer/songwriter of the group and Andrew was the bass player. Zoe Bennett and Jane Kahn are married and they have one child named Ruby Kahn-Bennett, a year older than Harry. Together they operate a restaurant called Hyacinth. They are an interracial, lesbian couple. Zoe was a member of the band who could play the piano and guitar.
Ruby and Harry are teenagers and close friends. Their relationship deepens as they struggle to discover who they are and who they want to become as adults. Some of the adults seem to be stuck in their own childhoods or in the need to return to that time of life as they grapple with their own aging and growing pains..
While in college, Elizabeth wrote a song made famous by a fourth member of their band, Lydia Greenbaum, who was the drummer and singer. The song, “Mistress of Myself” catapulted Lydia to fame, but like so many young famous entertainers, her life ended too soon. There is a movie being made about Lydia’s life, but Andrew and Elizabeth have not yet agreed to allow the song, a vital part of the movie, to be used in the film. Andrew doesn't want to have either his wife's past or his past behavior exposed on the screen for all the world to see, including his son and, perhaps, even Elizabeth. As secrets are revealed, they discover they may not know each other as well as they thought they did.
Zoe and Jane are not sure they want to remain together. Their daughter Ruby is a free spirit with purple hair and very little ambition for further education. They are very progressive parents who do very little regarding discipline, allowing Ruby a great deal of freedom, trusting her judgment which seems to leave a lot to be desired, but they are busy running the restaurant. They nurture her, but are very busy working and are rarely home. She is left pretty much To her own devices. She often stretches the rules to suit herself.
Ruby and Harry are friends, but Harry is a bit of a nerd. He usually follows the rules, but as his relationship with Ruby develops and he struggles to be less ordinary and predictable, he begins to break some pretty serious ones. All of the characters seem to be grappling with aging and growing pains with the adults yearning for the gaiety and freedom of the past and the teens yearning for the freedom of their future. Each, in his/her own way, begins to behave deceptively as a voice is given to the disappointment and misgivings they feel about the way their lives are turning out.
Although they all face major bumps in the road, the consequences for the misbehavior and poor choices do not seem to fit the circumstances or feel particularly realistic. In addition, the author created characters that seemed immature and overly preoccupied with sex, above all else. I thought the narrator overdid it a bit, at times, so that I felt as if she became more important than the character she portrayed.
On a positive note, the book was set in my old stomping grounds, in Brooklyn, so it brought back many memories of my own growing up and personal life crises, however, when I grew up, there were far more rules and regulations concerning appropriate behavior. We couldn’t think about running away to find ourselves. We had to face life a bit more responsibly and get a job to support ourselves. No one would think of turning to their parents for support. Rather we tried to help them, if we could.
The book made me wonder if the pendulum has not swung too far to the left, since all of the characters, young and old, seemed to be unhappy and unable to face life as adults or soon to be adults, unable to deal with life's problems without some kind of radical, sometimes thoughtless, sometimes illegal, sometimes inappropriately naive and most often selfish solutions. Perhaps too much freedom, with too little thought for the consequences, is really not a good long-term solution for all problems. Selfishness, self-satisfaction and self-interest seemed to be the reigning theme in the novel as young and old struggled with coming of age.

  "" by lakequiv (see profile) 08/10/16

  "" by Djbg1 (see profile) 08/19/16

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 01/09/17

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  "Modern Lovers" by BPBC_Lauren (see profile) 01/29/17

I liked it. A quick, enjoyable read. Some characters were less developed than others.

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 04/02/18

  "" by Ljwagoner (see profile) 04/24/18

A good read for a change of pace. P. 29 “Choices were easy to make until you realized how long life could be.”

  "" by [email protected] (see profile) 05/22/18

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