I feared initially that this would be just another teen angst novel with its inherent insecurities and self-absorption; however, the adolescent years were the springboard for the relationships that developed in the mid-1970s and evolved through their shared experiences. The four main characters are Ash, Jules, Ethan and Jonah, whose lives intersect and diverge as they find their individual and collective ways in the adult world. There are two peripheral characters, the arrogant Goodman and the wounded Cathy, whose story line is a necessary adjunct to the plot.
This book explores friendships that withstand divisions created by diversities, as well as the disappointments and rewards in the pursuit of their dreams. It is wide in scope with a variety of mostly likable characters living in New York City during the upheaval of the 1980s and into the 21st century. This is a hefty book in both size and content, and demonstrates Wolitzer's writing talent at its best.
Following a group of people and their interweaving, shifting friendships from teenage years through life, particularly two women, Ash and Jules. The characters are not ones I personally related to even though I too was a NYC dweller for almost 20 years, but if I may be so bold, they were "interesting." Not my normal type of read, but it was refreshing to read a book about contemporary people, even if they were not people I cared for very much.
I read many reviews for this book - some were more favorable than others. In my opinion, this book was very well written. It was amazing to see how many of the main characters who initially met at a summer camp experienced their successes, failures and hardships throughout their lives while always being there for one another. It is heartwarming to read about the unconditional love among friends who have the ability to maintain a lifelong relationship with one another, despite the fact that their lives did not always cross paths. Good book!