How long is it OK to hold onto a dream that isn’t coming true? Can you really have a love life and your dream career? These are just a couple of the questions many ask themselves as they transition between childhood and adulthood. They are also at the heart of Jenna Bush Hager’s next pick for her Read With Jenna book club members.
This March, Jenna has chosen “Writers & Lovers” by Lily King, the author of the bestselling novel “Euphoria.” The coming-of-age story grapples with themes of identity, grief, ambition and love.
“I chose 'Writers and Lovers' because I don’t think I’ve chosen a book like this,” said Jenna. “Lily King really explores different themes that our book club hasn’t explored.”
“Writers & Lovers” by Lily King
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In the novel, the protagonist, Casey Peabody, is at a moment in her life when she must face her future head-on and make decisions about what she really wants in both her career and love life. After the unexpected death of her beloved mother, Casey moves back to her old college stomping grounds in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she is forced to reckon with the fact that she isn't where she wants to be in her early 30s.
Jenna said, “I think after she loses somebody that she loves so very much, she has to decide what her priorities are and how she is going to grow.”
Casey also finds herself struggling in her romantic life as she ends up in a love triangle between a writing professor and his student.
“I just loved that there was this love triangle, but not in a cheesy, rom-com way. It was in a real way that she found herself attracted to these guys and wondered if they bring the best out in her,” said Jenna.
Of her two love interests, Silas and Oscar, King said, “I do think that they kind of mirror back to her what she needs and what she wants and what she doesn’t want.”
King wrote this book after her own mother’s passing. While the story is fictional, she said that Casey’s emotional state “echoes” how she was feeling when she was trying to make it as a young writer.
“I definitely drew from my own emotions at that time, trying to make the choice of a creative life, especially in my 30s when everybody else seemed to be making other choices,” said King. “I was just drawn to writing a more personal book after my mother died.”
“It is in some ways a love story. That’s clear from the title, but I think what Lily King did really well was that when you are done with this book, what you find is that as long as you are true to yourself and you really understand what makes you happy, that is the true love story,” said Jenna.
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