REVIEW: THE ADULTS, BY CAROLINE HULSE

 

Claire and Matt are no longer together but decide that it would be best for their daughter, Scarlett, to have a “normal” family Christmas. They can’t agree on whose idea it was to go to the Happy Forest holiday park, or who said they should bring their new partners. But someone did—and it’s too late to pull the plug. Claire brings her new boyfriend, Patrick (never Pat), a seemingly sensible, eligible from a distance Ironman in Waiting. Matt brings the new love of his life, Alex, funny, smart, and extremely patient. Scarlett, who is seven, brings her imaginary friend Posey. He’s a giant rabbit. Together the five (or six?) of them grit their teeth over Forced Fun Activities, drink a little too much after Scarlett’s bedtime, overshare classified secrets about their pasts . . . and before you know it, their holiday is a powder keg that ends where this novel begins—with a tearful, frightened call to the police.

What happened? They said they’d all be adults about this. . . .

My Thoughts: From the very beginning of The Adults, I had one of those “uh-oh” feelings. Nothing about this plan of theirs could be a good idea. Right? Vacationing with exes and new partners during the Christmas holidays sounded like the death knell for at least one or two of those relationships. A long five-day “weekend” could be disastrous.

Add in the somewhat bratty child Scarlett with her Imaginary Rabbit friend…and you are in for some tension, at the very least.

Matt was the first one I couldn’t stand. He was an annoyingly vague kind of person, unsure of what to tell his partner Alex about anything, not wanting to deal with the complications that might arise. He knew she wouldn’t want to go on the trip, so he didn’t tell her until the plans were all set.

Claire, Matt’s ex, seemed to have way too much control over everything. Others might feel slighted, or even ignored. And everything seemed to center around keeping their daughter Scarlett pleased about anything and everything.

Then there was Patrick, Claire’s new partner, whose jealousy reaches extremes before the weekend is done. What eventually happened took a while to sort out, and part of the narrative focused on a police investigation. What could have gone wrong indeed?

This interesting story with unlikable characters earned 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: OUR SOULS AT NIGHT, BY KENT HARUF

 

In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away, her son even farther, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in empty houses, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with. But maybe that could change? As Addie and Louis come to know each other better–their pleasures and their difficulties–a beautiful story of second chances unfolds, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature.

My Thoughts: In this short, yet sweet novel, we meet an unusual pair of senior citizens. They offer an opportunity for the reader to look beneath the surface and see them as more than two people near the ends of their lives. They felt like real people, more than a stereotypical elderly pair. They are no longer just two people we might have overlooked due to their ages. But when they begin their experiment to spend their nights together, Addie and Louis become fodder for town gossip. Small town folks have definite opinions about what they think Addie and Louis are doing…but others find their get-togethers inspiring.

Growing older does not mean one has to go on a shelf, although Addie’s son Gene is outraged enough that he steps in. His take on their friendship is dark and not just judgmental. He makes a threat that will change everything for the two of them.

But can he create a permanent wedge between them? Or will they find another way?

I loved Our Souls at Night, which I downloaded after recommendations from others…and because the movie based on the book is coming soon. Now I can’t wait! 5 stars.

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