Liz & Lisa's Book Club: The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

The Grown ups by Robin AntalekOkay--how the hell is it already the end of January?  We don't know about you, but we're still writing 2014 on everything! We hope 2015 has been treating you well and we're delighted to bring you another awesome book and author--Robin Antalek and The Grown Ups! Robin's writing is fresh and fun and we have a feeling you'll heart her forever! Great news! We have a copy to give away! Leave a comment here and we'll choose a winner. Contest closes on February 1st at 8am PST.

The Scoop: 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.

Our thoughts: Y'all know we can't resist any book about friendship! Pick it up!


Liz & Lisa's Book Club: The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek

Robin antalek1. We love books about friends who are really more like family. What was your inspiration for the friendships depicted in THE GROWN UPS?

As crazy as this sounds – The Grown Ups was born out of a single sentence. I had just shelved a book I had been working on for two years, and I was very definitely between projects, wondering where I was going next. I was sitting on the floor in my library’s used book store, surrounded by books I was going to buy, and eavesdropping on a conversation between two elderly volunteers when one of the women said to the other: ‘It was the summer all the children in the neighborhood caught a virus.’ Honestly, I have no idea what it was about that sentence, and I can’t even recall what their conversation was about. I heard nothing before or after. What I did do was write down that sentence inside one of the books I was going to buy. It would not leave my head. And soon, I had two brothers, one an overachiever and well, one less. A box of provocative photographs, a first kiss among friends, a very public family meltdown and a mother who quietly decides to leave her family. I thought it was going to be a short story, and then I couldn’t let them go. The funny thing is this: I visit that book shop at least once a week and I have never seen those volunteers again. To think their conversation sparked an entire novel. You just never know.

2. What are your favorite books about family and friendship?

I am a huge fan of the late Laurie Colwin, A Big Storm Knocked it Over, is one of my favorite books of all time, but her entire catalog of writing, fiction and non-fiction, she was a fantastic food writer, are just fabulous.. Also, Mary and O’Neil by Justin Cronin and just about anything written by the fabulous Ellen Gilchrist.

3. Where is your favorite place to write? Do you set a word count for yourself?

I write at an eight foot long oak library table rescued from the Vassar College Library renovation on my old white mac laptop. It’s piled with papers and books and photographs and little bowls filled with stones I’ve picked up from my travels. I live in an 1800’s Victorian with big floor to ceiling windows and I have the table shoved into the bay of three windows, despite the draft! I need the sunshine! I very definitely have a routine – I’m an early riser, make my coffee, feed the dog and then I go to my desk. I try not to check email or any other distractions and go directly to a work in progress. I might read back through progress from the day before, make a few adjustments and then get to it. I try and write until noon, take the dog for a walk or ride my bike or both, and then answer e-mail, edit, that kind of thing until my husband comes home and we have dinner. Now that my daughters are both out of the house, one in college and one graduated from college, I have a little bit more freedom in what kind of day I have. The getting to work thing in the morning comes from their school days. As soon as they left in the morning I would get to work, that way by the time afternoon pickup and activities arrived I felt as if I’d accomplished something. They don’t need me like that anymore but it’s a great habit to have retained. I try not to worry about word count. What comes out onto the page comes out – word count comes later, if ever.

4. If you had one piece of advice for an aspiring writer, what would it be?

Tell the best story you can. Period. Don’t worry about any of the other stuff. Tell the story that matters to you.

5. What are you working on now?

It’s about a woman married to a famous artist and the tough decision she must make to save herself and their daughter possibly at the expense of her marriage. I don’t know much else, but that’s the nut of the story right now.

Thanks, Robin!