Cover Image: All Grown Up

All Grown Up

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Member Reviews

I am torn between 2 and 4 stars and this is why: this novel is both good and terrible at the same time. 

It is good because it's a 100% New York novel: raw, unfiltered yet sincere. The main character is egocentric, delusional but true to herself.
It is terrible because, at some point, Andrea (the main character) becomes unbearable and too whiny. There's no real story to follow and it gets boring.

In the end though I appreciate the concept of this novel, a story about a young woman who's not perfect but real...yep, believe it or not, not everyone is his/her 30s is a CEO of some fancy start-up..some are messy, rough on the edges and still trying to find their place in this world, but that's what makes us interesting.
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I found this book to be a refreshing surprise! There have been a spate of novels in recent years of introspective female protagonists, without much in the way of plot. Most of what I've read, I didn't care for because there was nothing to connect me emotionally to these characters. However, Attenberg brought to life a woman that was so very compelling and impossible not to root for, even if she was infuriating at times. Well, a lot of the time! But, Andrea just seems so real, like someone I know, used to know, or parts of someone I used to be. I felt like I was able to understand her modus operandi, which I think is lacking in many introspective narratives, and her emotions just leap off the page:
"The permanence of my impermanence. I stand in possession of it. I stand before him at the entrance to a subway station, in possession of nothing but myself.  Myself is everything, I want to tell him. But to him it is nothing, because that's how he feels about himself right now. He is alone, and so he nothing. How do I explain to him that what applies to him does not apply to me? His context is not my context. How do you blow up the bus you've been forced to ride your entire life? It wasn't your fault there were not other means of transportation available"
Her family is also written with such authenticity, and I adored the interactions between her and her mother. Especially when she quips to Andrea:
 "I'm just saying you've lived without me appearing regularly in your life before, you'll do it again."
I was also caught off guard by the way the book was structured. It read like a collection of short stories, or pages ripped from a diary and told out of order - but in juuuust the right way for the author to paint a full portrait of Andrea's life. This was jarring at first, feeling like I was on a fast moving train and looking out the window, only to go through a tunnel and end up in a different time and place. One minute I'd be laughing at her cheeky wit, and the next I'd be reeling from an emotional gut punch. It seemed symbolic of her life:
"Her life is architected, elegant and angular, a beauty to behold, and mine is a stew, a juicy, sloppy mess of ingredients and feelings and emotions, too much salt and spice, too much anxiety, always a little dribbling down the front of my shirt. But have you tasted it? Have you tasted it. It's delicious."
This 'stew' unfolded in an exceeding clever way, layering tension and suspense to a novel that is not plot driven, yet kept me turning the pages. I read it in two nights of "just one more chapter, just one more chapter..." It's barely over 200 pages, so even if it doesn't necessarily sound up your alley, I'd HIGHLY recommend giving it the short amount of time it takes to read. It is, indeed, delicious.
Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an advance copy for my review.
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There is a lot of positive feedback for this title, and I feel badly that mine is negative. This is just not the book for me.

Firstly, there is no dialogue, and that style was hard to read. I also didn't connect or even like the main character. She is whiny and foul mouthed. I really didn't get very far to be honest. Maybe I will try this again when I'm around the character's age and see if I get anything different from it.
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Nearing her 40th birthday, Andrea Bern's life does not look the way she, or anyone in her family, might have expected it to look by this age; set in New York City, and expressed in perfectly-formulated vignettes, readers embark on a journey with Andrea to find out where she is and, more important, where she'd like to be. 

While All Grown Up is not entirely chronological, it moves along at a steady pace and, at just over 200 pages, it is a quick read; I finished it in one day. The writing is beautiful, intelligent and there is snarky humor in the most appropriately placed snarky humor; this makes for a perfect combination. 

"I hold his face in my hands, and we look at each other and don’t speak, and the room closes in on us, I feel it, the world is shrinking, and there is just him and me, physically connected, as close to being one as we can be. Gross."

I have always enjoyed Attenberg's writing and this new release is certainly no exception; I'll be recommending this one all year!
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I absolutely loved this book. It was so smart, so witty and above all so unique, giving voice to an overlooked and frequently misunderstood segment of the population, single women who aren't trying to fix their single-ness. I hope it's a giant hit.
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4 Stars

This –at first it seemed to me—easy breezy novel reeled me in from the start. Almost immediately, it got changed and became serious. Honest and refreshing. Dark, but with a sense of humor. This short book packs it in.

Another novel with dysfunctional characters—particularly the protagonist, Andrea Bern. But not limited to her—in fact—all her family—especially her dead, drug-addicted father and also her social activist mother. Throw in her brother and sister-in-law, but that’s another story [literally]. And her friend Indigo, whose story I loved.

Andrea is a former artist who works in advertising, a drinker, a serial sexual player, and a sometime friend. A single working woman, unhappy, and nearing 40 [at some points but not all as goes back and forth with many chapters in her 20s and is not told in a linear fashion]. She doesn’t know what she wants. Sometimes she goes to her psychiatrist, other times not for looong stretches.

Both depth and pain. But also mixed with lots of comic blurbs. For instance:

“They flirt heavily, shameless, nearly professional…” 

And hurt:
“… my anger is a brilliant, pulsing red., fully blossomed.”

I liked this book better than The Middlesteins.
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I loved these glimpses into the life of forty-something Andrea - so truthful and witty about adult life. Required reading for all women of 30+, especially those who don't want marriage or kids!
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Scrappymags 3 word review: Dead-on-Accurate "adulting" tale (ok I cheated with hyphens)

Shortest Summary Ever: Andrea Bern is now in her 40s, single and child-free. She's in an ok job, has ok friendships, a general ok life but struggles with emotional attachment (insert dad who died of an overdose = "dad issues") and thus drifts romantically from man to man, perpetually living in a state of "good enough." 

What's good under the hood: Time to get honest. Who HASN'T had a moment of "good enough" in life? Attenberg absolutely NAILED the psyche of many adults today and what it's really, truly like in the world of "adulting ." The word that comes to mind is - "settling." Settling for a marriage, kids, a job - whatever it is. I guarantee at some moment everyone reading this has settled for that something. That settling that leaves one trapped in the inertia of the mundane? That feeling is written poignantly (NAILED IT!) in Andrea. 

What Andrea lacks is passion, which she used to find through creating art, but somehow lost, trading in passion for an adult life, feeling uninspired with the day to day, trapped in a ho-hum job. I've had THAT job. Ugh. I was good at it, but never felt compelled to do MORE because I didn't care. Then I left to become a teacher, which is where my passion awoke. That feeling will resonate with readers who have ever experienced THAT job.

On that note, I'm single, child-free and 42 and my demographic is grossly underrepresented in literature today so I was THRILLED to see a non-Bridget Jones type. With that said, I feel I should identify with Andrea. Yet I don't in many ways. Sure, I can cringe with her dating mishaps and THAT job in the past I didn't enjoy, but I've always had PASSION, something that's been dormant in Andrea a long time. The book flashes through pieces of Andrea's life, painting a picture of how she became who she is. How does passion die? When do we shelve the creative parts of ourselves and turn them in for minivans and soccer games, husbands or one-night stands and quick highs or a job we detest but stay because it's safe? The truth is - she is many people who settle and move through life rather than MAKE life, who view life as something that happens TO them rather than something they shape. Yup, Andrea is no Bridget Jones. She can be cynical. She can be slutty. She might do a line of coke or two.  The enjoyment of the novel is watching Andrea's journey...

On a personal note, I had a short story published some years ago where I wrote how someone asked me why I scrapbooked because I was "single and didn't have a family of my own." Yeah. THAT happened. Andrea made me think of that day. 

What's bad or made me mad: some people will view Andrea as bitter or cynical yet I don't see that. I see Andrea as someone who isn't overly anything - she's present. But her journey is both admirable and unremarkable at the same time. It's life. It's what happens. 

Recommend to: 

Singletons will love this for the sheer fact it's our demographic. And there's no damsel to be saved. And it's REAL. Bravo. Thank you thank you thank you.
Any and all adults - the theme of settling and not living a dream is easily identifiable.
Book clubs will have LOTS to talk about with that chat nugget right there. Likely it will feel like a solid therapy session.
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for all the times I yelled "YES!" aloud, the warnings from my HOA for all the yelling of "YES!!" from my house, oh and for an advanced copy in exchange for this honest review.
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I had a hard time liking this one, but I can see why others would. I was a big fan of two previous novels by Ms. Attenberg (Saint Mazie and The Middlesteins), so I'm not a stranger to her writing. And I love her writing, I really do, I still do. However, I did not like the main character in this book AT ALL! She reminded me of those books about 20 somethings who can't get their act together and figure out their lives (and if you've read my blog, you know those are not books I tend to enjoy, with a few exceptions). The problem was, that Andrea is thirty nine years old. Come on now! I kept reading (because the writing style just flows so well that you want to continue on), waiting for a major change in her character. I guess it kind of, sorta happened at the end, although not well enough to convince me, and far far too late. Her behavior was appalling to me, and although the book was trying to convey why she acted that way, I just couldn't buy into it (especially at her age).

Sorry to say that the character ruined this one for me, although Attenberg's writing style has not lost anything since her previous books. Count me in to read the next one, I'm just hoping for a character I like better. Be sure to check out other reviews of this around social media, sometimes it is just not the right book for me, yet others enjoy it immensely.
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I loved the idea but this wasn't my favorite. I think I'll maintain a discreet silence on this one, although I was pleased to see it's a forthcoming Book of the Month selection.
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When I began this book, I wasn't sure I was going to like it; however, I was pleasantly surprised and ended up loving it! Told in vignettes, the novel tells the story of Andrea Bern, a single career girl navigating her way through the city, wondering if she will find fulfillment in relationships, friendships, or career. At first I kept thinking, "how many one-night-stands and drunken romps will it take for her to recognized that's not the path to happiness?" But when she must face the realities of her niece's chronic illness, she begins to count on family (as opposed to discounting them) and vows to leave the past behind, where it belongs. Humorous and witty, the novel is both poignant and eloquent.
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4.5 Stars
This book GETS me! I kept reading and saying constantly to myself "YES!!!!!!!!!!!". I live in a world where society still tells women that they have to get married, have children, live up to these stereotypes of being a female in the world, yet-- what if you find that you don't want those things? Or you feel like you're being softly pushed into something that doesn't work for your lifestyle? Can you take control of your life choices? Can you decided what makes sense for you and what doesn't? Why does being in my thirties and childless and unmarried suddenly feel like a death sentence doled out to me by friends, family, peers, and the leaders of this country?

Andrea Bern is my soulmate- she turns 40- while living in NYC deciding that she doesn't want all these things at her life right now. She's not interested in holding other people's babies or going to life events for people and friends that you have faded away from. Why should we keep pretending we actually want to attend these things-- when deep down, no one does? Told in little vignettes, the chapters tell us Andrea's story of her life- going past and present. She enjoys wine (who doesn't?!) and discovers friends that leave her life to start their own nest, she watches some of these fail, some work out, and a family filled with tragic events, oh- and a job that she decides she doesn't give a F*ck about (which I loved). 

This book won't be for everyone, but for everyone who feels even slightly like they are making choices in their life that aren't the same as everyone else. I'm holding back slightly, because the ending for me was a little bit disappointing- I wanted a strong ending of re-birth and faith, and we got something probably more realistic, but we can still dream, right?
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I'm not sure if I actually liked the main character but the journey with her I this book was both sad and funny. The ending stays with a long time and gives you a lot to think about.
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There are so many beautiful lines in this novel—All Grown Up has great writing and gorgeous insights into life.

It took me a little while to get a hang of the story-telling style. It’s about the same woman, Andrea, at different points in her life. The chapters jump back and forth between her in her twenties and then hitting forty. A couple chapters take place when she was in her teens. 

The story should be sad—Andrea has a jazz musician father who died of a heroin overdose when she was a teenager and now she has a niece who was born with a fatal illness. Because we see her at different times in her life, somehow it’s never depressing, just a well-written examination of the life of a New York woman who never wanted to be a mother or wife. She had wanted to be an artist, but she now works at an unfulfilling job to pay the rent. Back when she was still seriously studying art, she wonders “daily, if I have enough hunger. To be an artist means a lifetime of being told no, with the occasional yes showing up just to give you enough hope to carry on.”

Because the narrative style is nontraditional, there are a few points where the pacing is slow, but this is not a book you read just for plot. It’s about the writing, and on that score, this relatively short book succeeds admirably.
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I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

"What do you do when you already know what your problem is? What if it's not really a problem? It's only a problem if I want a relationship. If I want to fit into a conventional mode of happiness. It's only a problem if I care. And I can't tell if I care."

Andrea isn't really sure what she wants. But then again, she's not really sure what she doesn't want, either. She has a tendency to fall for the wrong guys—she gets taken in at the start of a relationship (even a fling), and before too long she and the guy pretty much hate each other. She also drinks more than she should, has a not-too-pleasant history with casual drug usage, and is often misanthropic.

As she approaches 40, most people think she's not a full-fledged adult, even if she has a job she's good at (although she hates it) and her own apartment. Her best friend, Indigo, has gotten married and had a baby. Her brother emerged triumphant from their chaotic and dysfunctional childhood, became a reasonably successful musician (for a while), and now he and his wife are raising their terminally ill baby daughter. Even her mother has gotten her act together, and just wants Andrea to be happy and settle down. But that doesn't seem to be in the cards for her.

Jami Attenberg's All Grown Up is a humorous and emotional look at one woman's struggle to hold it together from adolescence to adulthood, to define her own idea of happiness and security, to love and be loved on her own terms. She knows she's far from perfect, and she's not always happy with herself or her life (or even those in it), but she's willing to do what she thinks she needs to survive.

Attenberg is a storytelling genius. She has captured Andrea's voice so perfectly and it absolutely resonates throughout the book. Many of the other characters are really well-drawn, too, so much so that I could see them in my mind's eye, and that doesn't often happen with books. Much as she did with The Middlesteins, she makes her characters' flaws appealing, and makes you care about them even when they frustrate or annoy you.

The book jumps back and forth through time, from Andrea's teenage years through adulthood, looking at her relationships with her family, friends, coworkers, and the various men in her life, as well as her falling in and out of love with the idea of being an artist. At times it's a little disjointed, because you have to try to remember where everyone is at each particular instance.

I really enjoyed and was moved by this book. Attenberg is tremendously talented, and she has created a compelling portrait of a woman making her way through life on her own terms.

NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!
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5+ stars.  I read The Middlesteins and it as okay and so I requested this from Netgalley and when I got it I was disappointed that it only came in a pdf format and because i'm retarded with this kind of stuff I just figured I would wait until it comes out.  But something told me to try to figure it out and once I did, even though whenever I "turned" the (electronic) page I had to readjust the screen because the print is so tiny and there is no way to make it bigger I did that 200 times because I couldn't read this book fast enough. 
It's a short book about a woman who tells about  her life in these little vignettes.  She has a mom that she talks about and many men who come and go and a brother who she adores and a father that she adored when she was a girl and then he overdoses and dies in a chair that ends up at a later point in apartment. 
But the writing, THE WRITING! I guess it's feminist - sort of but I don't care for lit to be specifically pro female or not. I just want  a good story and even though the character is single and is not about babies and I'm married and have 2 I was this girl for the time I was reading it.  I was depressed and confused and had feelings that conflicted and didn't make sense and I had friends that I loved but also judged and a job that I loathed and a boss who was an asshat and I've been so addicted to alcohol and other things (not drugs, think more cookies) and have wondered at all the things I've done and wondered if it made any sense.  
But she's so real and flawed and lovely and someone I just wanted to know more and more about.  I hate that it's over and I don't read books over again but I will read this one later one.. oh yes, I will!
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I can't open this book to read and therefore can't review.
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Jami Attenberg has written a very cynical story about a woman who is unhappy in just about every aspect of her life.  Andrea Bern lives in New York, seen as a defeat since she came home to the city where she grew up.  She doesn't try to make it as an artist, her vocation as it seems, and she torpedoes relationships with men and women as she navigates through her thirties. It really is a depressing look at life.

Thanks you to NetGalley for this ARC.
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Especially in fiction works, I require dialogue.  It may be a good story, but I couldn't make it past page 29
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This book is well written.  It's great if you're a little ADD or want to read in snippits. It's a little confusing to piece together at first but comes together quickly.  It has a very different style to it and I would say this book would be enjoyed by some people while definitely not by others. I loved some parts/concepts of the book and related to many things but I also hated some parts/concepts of the book and couldn't relate at all...often these conflicting feelings would be in the same sentence!  Would I recommend it to friends? Some of them, not all of them.
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