The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek - Summer Reading Challenge

The Grown Ups


From the author of The Summer We Fell Apart, an evocative and emotionally resonant coming-of-age novel involving three friends that explores what it means to be happy, what it means to grow up, and how difficult it is to do both together

The summer he’s fifteen, Sam enjoys, for a few secret months, the unexpected attention of Suzie Epstein. For reasons Sam doesn’t entirely understand, he and Suzie keep their budding relationship hidden from their close knit group of friends. But as the summer ends, Sam’s world unexpectedly shatters twice: Suzie’s parents are moving to a new city to save their marriage, and his own mother has suddenly left the house, leaving Sam’s father alone to raise two sons.

Watching as her parents’ marital troubles escalate, Suzie takes on the responsibility of raising her two younger brothers and plans an early escape to college and independence. Though she thinks of Sam, she deeply misses her closest friend Bella, but makes no attempt to reconnect, embarrassed by the destructive wake of her parents as they left the only place Suzie called home. Years later, a chance meeting with Sam’s older brother will reunite her with both Sam and Bella - and force her to confront her past and her friends.

After losing Suzie, Bella finds her first real love in Sam. But Sam’s inability to commit to her or even his own future eventually drives them apart. In contrast, Bella’s old friend Suzie—and Sam’s older brother, Michael—seem to have worked it all out, leaving Bella to wonder where she went wrong.

Spanning over a decade, told in alternating voices, The Grown Ups explores the indelible bonds between friends and family and the challenges that threaten to divide them.


The Grown Ups was not quite what I expected based on the synopsis. Sure everything in it happened, but it made it seem like some of the events were more than they were. Like the summer of Sam and Suzie. That felt like two pages and not really that big of a deal. Sam and Bella seemed much different than what I expected. It was interesting, just not what I thought it would be.

For me this book seems to be about Sam. He is an odd one, not really sure of his thoughts or feelings are. He fooled around with Suzie for a few days before she left. He got with Bella, but then didn't know what he wanted with his life and just kind of left. He just meanders through life with no real purpose for a long time. Finally, towards the end, he gets himself together and really figures things out and I loved seeing that. This story could have just been about him with everyone else as secondary characters and I would have really enjoyed it.

Suzie, on the other hand, I never really got a good feel for. She has chapters from her point of view, but I never really connected with her. Her and Michael? I didn't see it. I just kept waiting for that to be over as it didn't make a lot of sense to me. Just based on what Suzie thought and felt it didn't seem to be some great love or anything, but it just kept going. I never really understood her and her chapters didn't add a lot for me.

Bella is sweet, and while I liked her more than Suzie, understood her more, she felt like more of a secondary character than the rest. She felt like she was just there sometimes, but not really a focus. You do know of her relationships and what happens as she grows up, but I wish it would have been more. I wish I would have been able to get to know her better.

Through this story we watch these three people grow into grown ups. We watch them deal with things that could affect us all. Really their parents growing older and what happens to them is a big part of this book. I did enjoy it even though the writing kept it at a light level and I didn't really connect with all of the characters.

Rating: ★ ★ ★1/2

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