Family novel poses questions about properly raising kids

“Perhaps it takes courage to raise children.”― John Steinbeck

Raising children is a full-time job that doesn’t ever really allow parents to retire. Even when their children are grown, parents field calls from their adult children about how to prepare certain recipes, tips for maintaining the lawn or to bemoan the difficulties of raising a child before asking if they want to watch their grandchild for the evening. Our latest read takes us to New York’s Hudson Valley as one mother begins to question if she raised her now adult children properly.

All Adults Here by Emma Straub

Astrid Strick was not a cuddly mother, her three children Elliot, Porter and Nicky, would never say she was a bad mother, but not a particularly emotionally invested parent either. Now that Astrid’s children are grown and raising children of their own, she finds herself observing their struggles and wonders if she failed them as a parent. She begins to question her parenting style after witnessing an acquaintance get mowed down by a rogue school bus. Her youngest son, Nicky, just sent his daughter to live with Astrid to avoid some pubescent drama at her school in New York City and Astrid is determined to be a more hands on and emotionally present adult figure for her granddaughter, Cecelia, as well as her children and two young grandsons. The problem is how?

As Emma Straub’s story unfolds, Astrid realizes that there’s so much about her children that she doesn’t know and that her own secrets have kept her from having a stronger relationship with her kids. “All Adults Here” is a charmingly kind story about forgiveness, family and love. As the narrative moves forward, Straub tells the Strick family’s story from multiple perspectives and reveals just how important it is to be honest with your loved ones. This delightfully funny novel is perfect for warm summer days while folks depend on technology to stay close to their relatives during the coronavirus pandemic.

From the book jacket…

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she’d been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence?

Astrid’s youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own. Her daughter is pregnant yet struggling to give up her own adolescence. And her eldest seems to measure his adult life according to standards no one else shares. But who gets to decide, so many years later, which long-ago lapses were the ones that mattered? Who decides which apologies really count? It might be that only Astrid’s thirteen-year-old granddaughter and her new friend really understand the courage it takes to tell the truth to the people you love the most.

If you enjoy…

Readers who enjoyed Emma Straub’s cheery writing might also be interested in some of her other works, like “The Vacationers” or “Modern Lovers.” Straub’s fans might also consider reading the amusing love story between a young widow and former baseball star in Linda Holmes’ “Evvie Drake Starts Over.”