Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
|(Source: Book of the Month)|
|(Source: Kelsey Darling)|
Five Sentence Summary
In college, Elizabeth, Andrew and Zoe were in band, Kitty's Mustache, along with another girl, Lydia, who left the band and made a name for herself, before dying at an early age. Now, Elizabeth and Andrew are married and have a son Harry, and Zoe has married Jane, and they have a daughter named Ruby, and a producer is asking them to sign over their life rights so they can make a movie about Lydia, but that is the last thing Andrew wants. Zoe and Jane are on the verge of divorce; Andrew feels like he is floundering in life and isn't sure what he wants; and now Harry and Ruby are an item and getting caught having sex in the park. Over the course of the summer, Harry and Ruby find themselves discovering themselves while having fun with each other and facing life decisions while their parents find themselves struggling to cope with everything that life is throwing at them. By the end of the novel, everyone has a clear idea of what they want from life, from their partners, and from themselves.
- Elizabeth and Andrew have a cat named Iggy Pop who goes missing for a good portion of the novel, and Elizabeth frets the entire time about where he is. As silly as this is, this spoke to the cat lover in me. I love my cats and if they were missing, I would be throwing the biggest fit until they had been returned to me. I definitely get you, Elizabeth. (And this is the second post in the last week in which I relate to a cat lady; I'm beginning to worry about myself!)
- Emma Straub is amazing with descriptions! You can really visualize the settings, the people, the food, oh, the food! Zoe and Jane own a restaurant and so food plays a big part in their scenes. At one point, they're talking about pancakes that Jane made and I could imagine myself eating them and became incredibly hungry and jealous that I was not actually eating them.
"Jane set an enormous platter of pancakes-thick, fluffy, generously studded with blueberries-in front of Elizabeth...Elizabeth edged off a small bite of pancake with the side of her fork. 'Oh, my God,' she said. 'These are insane.'" (p.231)
- So the two characters that I really hate are Andrew and Ruby. They both need a good slap so they can realize how good they have it.
- Andrew is a cheater. Yes, he was not married to Elizabeth when he slept with Lydia, and he hasn't cheated with anyone else, but god, I hate cheaters. And this is why he doesn't want to sign over his life rights for the movie; Elizabeth doesn't know and he had no plans of telling her. And listen to how he described cheating on her:
"It was like Betty and Veronica. Archie loved them both, and they loved each other, too, even though they tugged him back and forth. When Andrew imagined Elizabeth finding out, that was a part of his defense. It wasn't much but it was something. He hoped he'd never have to use it, that Lydia would just disappear one day and make his life easier. It wasn't like he and Elizabeth were married. They weren't even living together. It was worse than jaywalking but not as bad as a root canal. Worse than throwing up in a taxicab but not as bad as going to the DMV." (pp. 237-238)
- If any man even dreams of cheating on me, which is bad enough, but cheats on me with a friend and then has the audacity to say it's not as bad as a root canal or trip to the DMV, well, hell hath no fury. He was crazy to think that his little affair with Lydia, no matter how brief, would die with Lydia. Also, he joins a pseudo-cult and gives them $100,000+! I know he's lost, but that yoga studio/frat house had ponzie scheme written all over it!
- Also in the category of not deserving their significant other: Ruby! I just never got a good vibe from her. She calls her friends stupid and dislikes the fact that they're going off to college in the fall and she is going to be stuck working in her moms restaurant. She clings to the hope of her ex-boyfriend Dust will still be there, and since he doesn't have any goals for his life either, she likes that. Only Dust treated her like shit and umm, oh yeah, she's dating Harry. She isn't completely oblivious to the fact that she is torn between the two guys though.
"That morning, she had woken up from a sex dream...She and Harry were kissing, and then they were doing it, and then he was on top of her, but instead of Harry, it was Dust. Harry/Dust opened his mouth and said, in a perfect Harry/Dust voice, 'It's just you and me next year.'" (p. 306)
- And what is even more heartbreaking about this is Harry's very obvious love for Ruby. He lost his virginity to her, and there's a good chance that she was his first girlfriend. He takes their relationship much more seriously than she does.
"He'd already told Ruby that he loved her, and he couldn't imagine that changing anytime soon. He couldn't imagine it changing, period." (p. 259)
- I think that is what makes my dislike for Ruby so much more. I have been both Harry and Ruby in a relationship, and it sucks on either end, but I always feel for the Harry's of the world because it affects them more in the long run. And that she is just always so negative about everything.
- The big thing about the book that I didn't like is that I felt like I could have been reading about anybody's lives. I feel like there was so much possibility with the fact that they used to be this awesome band and they had all of these amazing memories. Instead, the most exciting part was Elizabeth finding out about the fling between Andrew and Lydia and then Elizabeth drunkenly telling Zoe and Jane about it. I wished for so much more.
I had a hard time relating to the characters, aside from Elizabeth's worry for Iggy Pop. The adults were in their 50's; they've lived their lives, they've gone on adventures, they are stable(-ish). The kids were 17 and 18; they have no clue what they want for dinner, let alone what they want out of life. I'm in the middle of these groups. Yeah, I can look back and remember what it was like to be that age, but I never had any of the experiences they did. Ruby, for me, was someone I could not relate to. I know people like her, who probably could relate to her, but I couldn't. To me, she felt too selfish and very hard.
I did like at the end, the "articles" about where everyone is 5 years later. It added a special touch to the book that I felt was missing through the rest of it. Again, it was an attention to detail that Straub put in there that makes the book better.
But overall, I am disappointed in the book. I'm hoping next month I will choose more wisely.
Genres: Fiction, Chick Lit, Contemporary