The Awkward Age by Francesca Segal

8/10

I received a copy of this book in order for an honest review, so here goes!

This book was a ROLLERCOASTER. Let me introduce you: James, American divorcee, and his teenage son Nathan have just moved into James’ English-widow girlfriend Julia’s house, where she lives with her teenage daughter Gwen. I realize that’s a lot of information to throw at you, but that’s just how Segal rolls. So the men move in, and Gwen and Nathan predictably hate each other, until they unexpectedly don’t hate each other, and lo-and-behold, Gwen ends up pregnant. And this is all within the first quarter of the book!

I don’t want to spoil the rest of the book, so I’ll leave you to wonder what happens next (just know that it involves many more colorful characters, including an American ex-wife doula and an English grandfather with severe arthritis).

What I liked about this book was that it did an excellent job of subverting my expectations.  About half of the things that happened were cliché or expected, but they were mixed in with incidents that broke the clichés or were opposite of what I had predicted. The mix was such that I stayed interested throughout, and reading this made it very hard for me to get other things done; I couldn’t put it down!

Likewise, the characters were realistic enough to make them relatable, but with sufficient whimsy to make them different from people you’d meet in real life. Their motivations, while as complex as real peoples’ always are, still were logical and you forgave them for their failings and blunders. Another thing that stood out to me was that Julia was an excellent representation of anxiety, and her circular thoughts and worries were exactly what it’s like to be a chronic worrier.

The one downfall of this book was the ending (Warning! This paragraph may contain a spoiler or two). Gwen and Nathan, and almost everyone else for that matter, get a beautiful, happy-ish ending (or at least an ending that they deserved). The one exception is Julia, who ends up worse off than she started. Not everyone gets a great ending in real life, but it broke my heart how Julia essentially settles for loneliness and anxiety rather than standing up to her own daughter.

Regardless, the book was amazing, and I recommend that everyone keep their eye out for when it hits bookstores in a few weeks.

AND WHAT ABOUT THE MOVIE? I would be down for a movie about this book, but better yet would be a sit-com. There are so many possibilities: teenage pregnancy, the hilarity that is Americans living in the UK, three generations of family trying (and failing) to get along, and more! The weekly episodes practically write themselves.

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