Review: All Grown Up by Jami Attenburg

I wish I had the words to describe how much I love this book. It was elegant and poignant. It was biting and, at times, harsh. Jami Attenburg perfectly captured what it’s like to be an adult in a world that’s far from perfect.

Told through a series of vignettes, the story follows Andrea Bern as she figures out what it means to be an adult in a world full of expectations. At thirty-nine, she’s childless, reckless, and alone. As the people around her seem to follow the prescribed path of “life”, Andrea is stuck floundering over what it means to be alive. Her brother and his wife are having a much-anticipated baby. Her best friend is getting married. And Andrea is stuck.

She has a job she’s good at. She doesn’t like her job. She has her own apartment. She drinks too much. She’s a casual drug user. She’s a screamer in bed. She cycles through men. She doesn’t want children. She’s seeing a therapist. She doesn’t know what it means to be happy. She’s a mess sometimes.

As Andrea faces pressure from her family, friends, and societal standards to settle down, she questions what she wants from her life. When her brother’s baby is born terminally ill, she struggles to understand her brother’s trial and chafes at the expectations placed on her by a family struggling with their grief.

A coming-of-age story starring an established adult, I related to this book like I have with few others. Andrea Bern is a jarringly honest and oftentimes frustrating character. This is a phenomenal read for anyone past the age of puberty. Jami Attenburg has written a brutally honest and engrossing exploration of what it means to be happy that deserves a place on everyone’s bookshelf.



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