Book Review: Modern Lovers

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So many book reviews to write! Sometimes when I get on a reading tangent, I can’t even stop to write a full review, I just move on to the next book. After the disappointment of Rich and Pretty, I went on a three book binge. Finally, I am getting around to writing the reviews. Up first is Emma Straub’s Modern Lovers.

I received Modern Lovers as a part of my first Book of the Month shipment in June. Shockingly, I didn’t know about Book of the Month until recently. If you read other posts in my blog, you’ll know that I’m a sucker for subscription boxes/services. But for the most part, I try to stay away to protect my wallet. I saw an ad which advertised a three-month subscription for only $21, and I jumped on it. I can’t even get one new hardcover book for $21, and this way I could get three. It was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, they are not running that deal anymore but regularly priced it’s $14.95 a month which is still less than you are going to pay for a hardcover anywhere.  Each month, five judges pick a book and those are the books that you can choose from. The judges can be authors, actors, Book Riot hosts like Liberty Hardy etc. They each tell you why they picked that book and then you can choose which book you want to be shipped to you. The best part is that you can add other titles for just $9.95, needless to say, I never just pick one. So I personally think it is a pretty awesome service.

Anyway, I picked Modern Lovers as a title in my June box (one of three). Surprisingly, I had not read any of Straub’s other books. She is a very popular author with highly acclaimed titles, I just never seemed to get around to her books. But I have heard so many good things about her new release that it piqued my interest. The story follows three former college bandmates in their adult lives throughout one summer. In their heyday, Kitty’s Mustache was a hippie, non-conformist rock band that played at small, liberal Oberlin College in Ohio. Their one hit was taken by their lead singer when she went out on her own to pursue a solo career, the only member to become famous. She died young and now there is a movie to be made about her life which brings up the past with her former bandmates.

Elizabeth is married to fellow band member Daniel and they have a son, Harry. Elizabeth is a real estate agent and over protective of her teenage son. She wrote the famous song but received no credit and is interested in this movie for her own ‘story’ to be told. Daniel is unemployed seeking some sort of higher calling and goes to find it in a sketchy Yoga studio. He doesn’t want the film to be made, he is harboring a secret from his past.

Zoe is married to her partner Jane but is seriously considering divorce, as the two of them have drifted apart. Together, they own a restaurant in the neighborhood and have a teenage daughter, Ruby. Zoe struggles with her love for Jane and her loyalty to Elizabeth as she tries to figure out if she can pull her family back together or if the damage is beyond repair.

Ruby and Harry have gone from childhood playmates to SAT prep classmates to hookup buddies to boyfriend and girlfriend all in one summer. Ruby who has an uncertain future but a colorful past turns Harry’s world upside down. Their parents, though longtime friends are not happy about this relationship development which makes the teenagers want to be together even more.

This book had great characters and enough plot to keep the reader interested. The presence of the past is felt on the page and is with the characters in every move they make. There is also a great parallel dynamic in the love stories of the past and Ruby and Harry’s own story.

The ending was the only thing that I wasn’t 100% on board with. When issues are tied up too easily at the end of a book, I’m left feeling a bit unsatisfied. I want the characters to be happy, but I want the realistic consequences of actions to be felt as well. But overall I really enjoyed the book and I look forward to reading more of Straub’s work. A great summer read.

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