A Beautiful Mess Book Club-The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer


February 2, 2014 by cookingtofeel

The Interestings

So, the lovely Emma of A Beautiful Mess just started a book club, which is perfect for me to help accomplish my goal this year of reading more books for pleasure! The January selection was The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, a novel I had no background knowledge of. I just decided “Hey, this looks like a good book,” and read it. Yeah. I totally judged a book by its cover. But I loved it. The way Wolitzer connects all of the characters together and shows the contrast of their lives is so raw, yet shows how true friendship and tragedy can bring old friends together.

Emma posted some discussion questions on the ABM blog, so I’ll be talking about them here. If you haven’t read the book yet, or are in the process of reading it, stop reading here since there are some major spoilers in these discussion questions! If you’d like, you can go on over to the ABM blog and read along with me! I’ll be blogging about the book club once a month and would love for you to post your thoughts and comments about the books! February’s book is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Okay. Now for the discussion!

1. Jules’s (aka Julie’s) name changed once she attended her first summer at Spirit in the Woods. Do you think she changed too? If so, in what way(s)?

Once Julie became Jules, I think that she changed as a person. She was opened up to this new world of creativity and excitement, something she never had before. She became Ash and Ethan and Goodman and Jonah. She became artsy and interested in more than she currently had.

2. One big theme from the book is the idea of classism, or at least feeling like you identify with one class in society and not others. What are your thoughts on this?

To me, Jules really exemplifies this idea. Throughout her life, especially during adulthood, Jules felt as if she and Dennis were in a completely different realm than Ash and Ethan. Wolitzer shows Jules’s increasing jealousy, which eventually levels out but never fully disappears. Jules and Dennis both grew up modestly, and stayed this way. Ethan, however, grew up modestly as well, but became transformed through his talent and connection with Ash. I think that people can identify with one class in society and not others, but they aren’t limited by this. You can always change yourself and your circumstances and become someone different, much like Ethan did. Ethan also shows how one can change and step into another class, but can still be moral and connect with those from a lower class in society.

3. Jules’s jealousy.

Like I mentioned briefly above, Jules had an intense jealousy for Ash and Ethan. I feel like everyone experiences some form of this in life: feeling jealous of those close to you for what they have and experience and what you don’t. Her feelings were natural, albeit obsessive, and she just never felt like she truly connected with her old friends once they all became the current versions of themselves in adulthood.

4. Art. Most of the main characters in this book consider themselves creative and most of them pursue artistic careers. What do you think about that? 

I love how this book focuses on a group of friends coming together because of art. Art is such a powerful thing and has so much potential to bind people together, even those who would otherwise have nothing in common with each other. While Ash and Ethan chose to pursue artistic careers, which worked out for them and they were happy with, Jules and Jonah chose not to. It was more of that Jules wasn’t fit for the creative career she thought she was, while Jonah didn’t want to pursue music because of his past. Jonah experienced a pretty harsh trauma of being drugged as a child, which drove away all creative interests of his concerning music until later on it life. But he found another creative outlet, mechanical engineering, which shows that everyone has art in them; whether or not it’s traditional and obvious or different and new.

5. Goodman Wolf.

Goodman is such a lovable character, yet one who drives you crazy. I feel like this is how Jules and Ash and the other characters in the book felt as well. Goodman holds some sort of power over everyone else during their childhood days spent at Spirit in the Woods. But his father’s expectations and the constant comparison to Ash really get to Goodman. Whether or not he actually did rape Cathy I’m not too sure. I feel sort of like Jules regarding this topic. He could have done it, but at the same time I don’t want to believe that he did it. He just snapped and needed to be somewhere else, away from everything familiar to him. But his life never really got better and he ended up wrecking other people’s lives and placing stress on those who had to keep the secret that he still existed and was okay.

6. Did you cry a little when Ethan died? I did. 

’nuff said.

2 thoughts on “A Beautiful Mess Book Club-The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

  1. I LOVED The Interestings too! I especially loved Ethan. His scenes with Jules just broke my heart. The whole story was so bittersweet. I reviewed it here: http://margotmcgovern.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/the-interestings-meg-wolitzer/ Have you read any of Wolitzer’s other books? I haven’t, but very keen too. Looking for an idea of where to start.

  2. I had no idea A Beautiful Mess had a book club!! I didn’t read the questions because I don’t want spoiler 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!

    xo Megan, Lush to Blush

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