From the Publisher
“The long-awaited book that perfectly captures the '90s, that time of social and financial excess that set the stage for the current economic collapse.”
“An absorbing, if at times sprawling, story of a group of idealistic friends coming of age in the big city.”
— The Boston Globe
“Superb, acutely insightful… a modern-day version of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence"
“An expansive and elegantly executed time capsule of the dot.com generation finding its feet during a critical moment in history.”
— New York Daily News
Rakoff's debut novel is a ponderous, meandering and nostalgic portrait of a postcollegiate group of Gen-Xers awkwardly navigating weddings, pregnancies, betrayals and funerals in pre- and post-9/11 New York City. At the center of the group is Sadie Peregrine, a rising book editor who is having trouble reconciling her personal and professional ambitions. Rounding out her circle is Lil, a depressed and flailing scholar; Emily, a starving actress; Tal, a successful actor; Beth, a would-be English prof; and Dave, an enigmatic musician and Beth's ex-boyfriend. The writing is episodic and relies heavily on exposition, and many character interactions and plot developments occur off the page and are referred to only indirectly. At her best, Rakoff offers a carefully studied glimpse into her characters' minds. Too often, though, the large cast and the hopscotch chronology come at the expense of narrative tension, of which there isn't much. Thirty-somethings looking back wistfully on their 20s and their struggles with the vicissitudes of adulthood might get a bang out of this. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Rakoff's first novel is unabashedly influenced by Mary McCarthy's The Group, and though it doesn't reach those heights, it's an entertaining, updated look at artistic-minded young people progressing toward adulthood in New York. Where McCarthy focused on a group of new Vassar graduates, Rakoff's characters are alumni of Oberlin, a liberal bastion that the friends generally look upon favorably but were also quite ready to leave after four years. The novel opens with the surprise announcement of a wedding engagement between Tuck and Lil. The engagement party allows the reader to become acquainted with all of the friends and serves as somewhat of an official kick-off to actual adulthood for them. Rakoff then formulaically uses the narrative to take turns with each friend in order to place equal importance on all of them, despite their various levels of likability. As they experience marriage, children, dot-com busts, infidelities, alcohol abuse, personal tragedies, professional successes, and other common experiences of twentysomethings in the mid-1990s, Rakoff objectively and deftly chronicles all of it despite her personal connections. Recommended for most fiction collections.