I consider the fact that I’m still friends with people who I’ve known since I was a teenager (and beyond), to be a good thing. The plus points are obvious – being able to be rude to each other and convince yourself it doesn’t matter, to get drunk together and regale anyone who’ll listen with stories they’ve all heard before, thus boring the shit out of them for the four thousandth time, to go on holiday together and watch your kids fall in and out of love with each other, over and over again, to name but a few. I think some of the negatives are that it sometimes doesn’t give you the space to grow and develop as a person as much as you would, if you didn’t have people who constantly reminded you of who you used to be.
I don’t mean that they sit there and pull you apart every time you do something different. It’s more to do with the reflection of their knowledge of you on yourself. I consider myself to be a very different person compared to who I was in my teens and twenties, which is a good thing. But when you have old friends who saw you in those years, it’s like a constant reminder of who you used to be. I guess in some ways, that’s good, as it shows you distance traveled and reminds you of the hard work you’ve put in to become a better version of yourself. And obviously those friends are also growing with you and those who remain your friends are those who have allowed you to grow, much like in a healthy spousal relationship (I may have made that word up. Give me creative licence please)
In this book, The Interestings, which is about a group of self obsessed teenagers who meet in a hippy summer camp in America in the 70’s and who form a club, which they call The Interestings (because they consider themselves to be better than any of their peers, which sets a theme for the story) we follow their individual and group experience through their teenage years and into their adulthood. They remain friends, they all have shared knowledge about each other, they all have secrets from each other, they all have different relationships with each other and all this, of course, has an impact on their individual lives and their other relationships.
There are many themes in this book; friendships, relationships, power and money having influence when it shouldn’t, the concept of never feeling like you belong. Meg Wolitzer has a nice dry humour, which I appreciated, with an attention to detail which is admirable, and after a bit of a slow start, I genuinely cared about all the characters – some more than others, as some of them are arseholes, but you know, that’s life isn’t it. As a study in old friendships and how they evolve, it wins for me.