The grown ups by Robin Antalek. New York: William Morrow, 2013. ***
"It was the summer all the children in the neighborhood caught a virus."
Suzie Epstein's 15th birthday party was derailed by an argument between her parents. Some speculated that Suzie started it all because she was the first to get sick, others wondered if there had been an adult supervising the party, others would not have caught it too. Or was it Suzie showing Sam Turner the box of photographs hidden in a closet on the top shelf in her father's room? How many mothers in the neighborhood were included in this private collection and what did inclusion mean? Suzie and Sam sharing their first serious kiss seem to seal an unspoken agreement, but Sam is not sure what he has agreed to.
That summer of 1997 when vacations got cancelled, summer jobs started late and attendance at camps postponed; set in motion a chain of events with far reaching consequences masterfully crafted by Analtek. Told in alternating voices of Sam, Suzie and Bella, Analtek takes us on a journey of seemingly daily nondescript events, which add up to friendship, first love, marriage, heartbreak and family.
Antalek has certainly created powerful voices for her main characters, each vying for the opportunity to tell his or her story. Sam, Suzie and Bella grow up in the 15 years represented as time marches on.
I enjoyed this book, but it left me not quite satisfied with the story. Perhaps, it is my perspective and age, but I felt that at times it lacked the depth needed to convince me that the characters are "real." There were times when Antalek was a craftsman and I wanted more of that "voice." When I read fiction, I want to continue the story or wonder what the character is doing, saying, feeling now after the book ends. This book just didn't do that for me. I will look forward to reading additional work by Antalek and see her progression as a writer.