Wolitzer has written a sprawling, decades-long tale of East Coast kids who meet at an arts camp and jokingly refer to themselves as The Interestings–exactly the kind of ironic, half-kidding-half-hopeful joke that captivates them at that moment in 1974. The six teenagers run the gamut of the art world: a dancer, a musician, an animator, an actress and feminist, an architect, and a comedic actress. The latter character, Jules, forms the center of the story: Jules is not an artist when she ends up at Camp Spirit-in-the-Woods. She is an outlier: a scholarship kid enamored of the privilege and talent of the others.
As the clique of six teenagers sit around in Boys’ Teepee 3, they establish a group dynamic that will endure not only for the rest of that summer (and the summers to come), but for much of the next thirty-odd years. Unfortunately, I think Wolitzer got it right when at the end of the book she has Jules describe these decades as: “…an animated sequence of longing and envy and self-hatred and grandiosity and failure and success, a strange and endless cartoon loop…”
The overall messages of the book seems to be that life sucks, gets better again, sucks a little more, gets better, and so on and so forth. No, the book was not that interesting.