Jenna Bush Hager describes her May Read With Jenna pick, "All Adults Here," by Emma Straub as "light and funny" even as it explores meaningful themes.
The book begins when family matriarch Astrid Strick witnesses a longtime acquaintance getting hit by a bus, causing some of her long-held perspectives on life to suddenly shift. On the same day, Astrid's granddaughter, Cecelia, moves in with her following an incident at the school she attends. Meanwhile, Astrid's three adult children, Elliot, Nikki and Porter, each have their own lives and problems they are handling with varying degrees of success.
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With each chapter told from a different character's perspective, the novel touches on many different life stages and personal dilemmas.
Jenna says, "It's about how families can be messy and complicated and at the same time, centered on love."
In the end, there are many interesting and important topics to discuss in this book. Start a conversation about "All Adults Here" with these questions provided by the publisher.
- "All Adults Here" explores a family through characters of all different ages and stages of life. How does the author write from all these different perspectives in a way that resonates and feels relatable?
- The author, Emma Straub, has said, “For me, the book is really about the point in life when you're in the middle of that Venn diagram, and are both a parent and a child simultaneously.” Is this a period of life that you know something about? Did you gain any new insights from reading this book?
- How does the title resonate with the story, the characters and the mood of the book?
- The family in "All Adults Here" is centered in a small town in upstate New York, and two of the adult siblings find themselves raising their own children in the same town where they grew up. How do you think that fact influences their adult lives? Would this be a positive or a negative for you?
- The mother character thinks about the role that birth order has played in the personalities of her three children and how their own individual childhood experiences shaped the adults they became. To what degree do you think she is correct? How much do you think birth order plays a role?
- "All Adults Here" looks at parenting both from the parent and child perspective. Astrid, the matriarch, reckons with mistakes she made as a parent, while her adult children reckon with their own parenting mistakes. Straub prefaces the novel with this dedication: “For my parents, who did their best, and for my children, for whom I am doing mine.” Discus the messiness of parenting and the role of forgiveness.
- What do the middle school-aged characters, Cecelia and August, understand about forgiveness that the older characters do not? How do they provide the adults with a model for how to be true to yourself and what you believe?
- Ultimately, this is a novel about community — both as a family and a town. How does the influence of community come to bear on the outcome of the plot? What is the role of community in your own life?
- This novel addresses serious issues around pregnancy, sexuality, identity and bullying. How does the author juggle these kinds of issues with humor and levity? How important is humor to you as a reader?
- This novel is coming out in a very strange climate. Did you find it a useful antidote to the current anxiety of the world? Did you appreciate the way it tackles profound issues while also warming the heart and bringing joy? Did it resonate with the current struggles you see around you, the importance of taking care of each other?
To stay involved all month long, be sure to follow us on Instagram (don't forget to tag your photos with #ReadWithJenna), join our Read With Jenna Facebook group and follow along on Goodreads to continue the conversation about "All Adults Here."