I just finished The Interestings yesterday. It received lots of high reviews from personal friends as well as several media sites. I was intrigued by the hype it received, plus it was a different sort of book for me. No magic or fantasy or Jesus. No silly, lighthearted escapism. Just a story of 6 teenagers who meet at summer camp the year Nixon resigns and remain friends through adulthood. If you’re considering reading it, note that it is definitely a book detailing being a young adult in the 70s and all that includes. Subthemes include feminism, the sexual revolution, the haves and have-nots, and child labor. A major theme is learning or understanding that the life you dream of as a teenager or envy as an adult is not necessarily the life that is best for you and that perhaps the life you have is the most precious one you could have lived.
While I found the storytelling to be intriguing and definitely wanted to read through the entire novel, I can’t help but admit that it was just utterly depressing to me. You grow to love these six who encounter all the ups and downs of life including mental illness, death of a parent, cancer, broken hearts, and rape. Toward the end of the book, it just felt like the characters were surviving from one bad thing to another. Frankly, I was reminded of the reality that this is how life is for many people without Christ. The lack of hope and just surviving until finally you are no more was almost more than I could handle. I put the book down about 100 pages from the end because I just couldn’t keep reading, but needing to know what happened at the close brought me back a day later. The emptiness continued until the very end. Honestly, reading this has caused me to be back on my knees praying for those who may also be surviving from one bad thing to another–who are just making their way through life until they are no more. I cannot imagine enduring life like that and how that worldview would change everything about life for me. Of course bad things happen to Christians and non-Christians alike, but the hope in Christ and promise of eternity definitely make the terrible things of this world more bearable.
I had originally intended to spend Thursday (my birthday) finishing this book. I’m not glad I finished early as this would be a rather heavy emotion to carry around on a day for celebrating. I’ll read something a little more lighthearted on Thursday. Hopefully leaving me with a little less sense of emptiness and sorrow. Though I am thankful for The Interestings and the way it will forever remind me to be hopeful and to actively share that hope with those who may be looking for something similar.