Summary and book reviews of All Adults Here by Emma Straub

All Adults Here

by Emma Straub

All Adults Here by Emma Straub X
All Adults Here by Emma Straub
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2020, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2021, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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About this Book

Book Summary

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.

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, wasn't it, that one's hair always looked best on the day of a...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Discuss the examples you see in this particular multi-generational family, or in your own life, of the ways that children can repeat or mutate the strengths and the mistakes that their parents handed down to them.
  2. Astrid thinks about the role that birth order has played in the personalities of her three children, and how their own individual childhood experiences have helped to shape the adults they have become. To what degree do you think she is correct in her conclusions about the forces that shaped her children? In what ways are the choices they have made as adults reflective of their younger selves? How much do you think birth order plays a role?
  3. Why does Astrid choose to tell her children about her relationship with Birdie when she...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The mood of Straub's novel is by turns serious and sunny, and the experience of reading it is so effortless and enjoyable that readers might not even notice just how skillfully the author juggles a handful of narrative points of view, not to mention numerous conflicts, issues and themes. All Adults Here celebrates the connections between family members and within communities, acknowledging interdependence while also recognizing that relationships—and the individuals within them—will not cease changing...continued

Full Review (656 words).

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(Reviewed by Norah Piehl).

Media Reviews

Marie Claire
Emma Straub's All Adults Here will make you question your entire childhood, and how much your parents influenced it as you learn one mother's perspective of what went right and what went wrong with her own family.

Buzzfeed
No one writes family drama like Straub, and in her new novel All Adults Here, she brings the Strick family to life with her unique wit and wisdom...It's a heartfelt, grounded story about family dynamics, forgiveness, and the unavoidable effects we have on those we love.

The New York Times
‘Literary sunshine’ is a good way to think of Straub’s work...Her wit extends out from the individual characters into a larger commentary on the difficulties of becoming an adult, making this an especially rich addition to the author’s body of work.

Entertainment Weekly
Undeniably pleasing . . . a kind of thinking-person’s beach read that’s maybe all the better for arriving in these strange, landlocked times.

The Washington Post
Fresh and funny. . . ripe with the kind of juicy gossip perfect for swapping with a favorite sibling via late-night, hushed phone calls. . .

Kirkus Reviews
Straub has a sharp eye for her characters' foibles and the details of their liberal, upper-middle-class milieu...With humor and insight, [she] creates a family worth rooting for.

Library Journal
In this engaging novel, Straub explores the ups and downs of a somewhat disaffected 21st-century family with warmth, sympathy, and humor.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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.

Booklist (starred review)
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...Straub's novels are dearly beloved, and this might be her best yet.

Author Blurb Ann Patchett, New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth
All Adults Here is a novel about how we try and fail at every age and yet somehow survive. It is brimming with kindness, forgiveness, humor and love and yet (magically) is 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.

Author Blurb Elizabeth Strout, New York Times bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge and Olive, Again
A totally engaging and smart book about the absolutely marvelous messiness of what makes up family; a wonderful book.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Rhinebeck, New York

Beekman Arms Inn in Rhinebeck Clapham, the idyllic Hudson Valley town in which Emma Straub sets All Adults Here, is fictional, but the author places it in a very real geographical setting. Her characters mention real places, including Rhinebeck, "one town north" along the Hudson River, which bears some resemblance to Straub's description of Clapham.

Rhinebeck is a town of around 7500 year-round residents located about 100 miles north of New York City. Prior to European settlement, the area was home to the Sepasco tribe. The Dutch began settling there in the 1680s, and shortly thereafter it became the location of the Beekman Arms, now the oldest continually operating inn in the United States (and yes, George Washington stayed there). Henry Beekman, the inn's ...

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More books by Emma Straub

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    Among the Ten Thousand Things

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    A dazzling first novel, a portrait of an American family on the cusp of irrevocable change, and a startlingly original story of love and time lost.

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