The Adults by Alison Espach
(Scribner, 2011, 307 pages)
Initially set in the early 90s we are introduced to teenager Emily Vidal at the scene for her father’s 50th birthday party. When she later stumbles across her father embracing their next door neighbor she’s not sure how to react… especially since it has only just recently been revealed that her parents will be getting a divorce. In the midst of all this Emily witnesses one of her neighbors committing suicide and this (understandably) impacts her significantly.
The Adults follows Emily’s path to “adulthood” while making it clear that there is never really a time when we truly become adults and completely leave childlike tendencies behind. The novel goes from Emily’s first year in high school to a few years beyond college. Emily has struggled to find herself while also being supportive of her parents and pining for a relationship that began way too early in life.
I enjoyed this book, which also happened to be Espach’s debut novel. I appreciated that the author received her MFA from Washington University here in St. Louis. It wasn’t a dense book, but it wasn’t something I found myself racing through. There were parts where I laughed out loud and there were parts I could definitely relate to. We’re in the mind of a young woman as she grapples with the world around her and tries to find her place in it as an “adult.” Something that isn’t always that easy.