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All Adults Here by Emma Straub
Contemporary fiction

All Adults Here

by Emma Straub

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Quick take

This intriguing family introspective will make you appreciate your loved ones, no matter how flawed they appear to be.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Happy

    Happy

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SocialIssues

    Social issues

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Literary

    Literary

Synopsis

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 intentionally 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.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of All Adults Here.
All Adults Here

Chapter 1

The Quick Death

Astrid Strick had never liked Barbara Baker, not for a single day of their forty-?­year acquaintance, but when Barbara was hit and killed by the empty, speeding school bus at the intersection of Main and Morrison streets on the eastern side of the town roundabout, Astrid knew that her life had changed, the shock of which was indistinguishable from relief. It was already a busy day—she’d spent the morning in the garden, she had a haircut appointment at 11:30, and then her granddaughter, Cecelia, was arriving by train with two suitcases and zero parents (no school bus accidents there—just a needed escape hatch), and Astrid was to meet her at the Clapham station to bring her back to the Big House.

 

The bus hit Barbara just after eleven. Astrid was sitting in her parked car on the inner lane of the roundabout, the verdant circle at the center of town, adjusting her hair in the mirror. It was always the way, wasn’t it, that one’s hair always looked best on the day of a scheduled trim. She didn’t wash her hair at home unless they’d gone to the beach, or she had been swimming in chlorinated water, or some foreign substance (paint, glue) was accidentally lobbed in her direction. No, Birdie Gonzalez washed Astrid’s hair every Monday and had done so for five years, before which it had been washed by Nancy, at the same salon, Shear Beauty, which was located on the southeastern side of the roundabout, in the quarter circle between the Clapham Credit Union and Susan’s Bookshop, kitty-?­corner from Spiro’s Pancake House, if you peered through the open sides of the white wooden gazebo at the grassy island’s center. The professional hair washing was a relic from her mother’s generation, and an affectation that her own mother had not possessed, and yet, there it was. It was not a pricey indulgence, if weighed against the cost of proper conditioner. On every eighth Monday, Birdie also gave Astrid a trim. Nancy had given slightly better haircuts, but Birdie was better with the shampoo, and Astrid had never been vain, only practical. Anyway, Nancy had retired and Astrid hadn’t missed her. Birdie was from Texas, and her parents were from Mexico, and Astrid thought of her as human sunshine: bright, warm, sometimes harsh, but always good for one’s mood.

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Why I love it

All Adults Here is the kind of book I want to read while sitting by the pool with a drink. While that’s not something we can all do right now, Straub’s writing is still a fun escape for people who just want to go live in somebody else’s shoes for a while.

When Astrid Strick, a bossy but loving grandmother, witnesses a neighborhood acquaintance get hit by a bus, she is spurred into bringing her own family together—whether they share her renewed appreciation for loved ones or not. Each chapter follows a member of her clan, from her thoughtful and compassionate granddaughter Cecelia to her three very independent-minded children. Their storylines offer hilarity, heartbreak, and plenty of juicy complications.

The book explores how families can be messy and complicated while at the same time stay centered on love. It poses big themes that you can discuss with friends and family but also remains light and fun at its core. I think in a time when all we want is hope, All Adults Here is a bright and beautiful book to reach for.

I have been a fan of Emma Straub for a long time. She has a unique ability to create very funny and wild observations while telling powerful stories about the essential messiness of families. In a time when all we want is hope, All Adults Here is a bright and beautiful book that offers up warmth and wonder on every page.

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Member ratings (4,275)

  • Emily G.

    Ashland, OH

    I went into this book with prejudged notions. The reviews for this book seemed all over the place... but it ended up being a quick, light-hearted read. The Strick Family was relatable in every way! ❤️

  • Jesse F.

    Memphis, TN

    I loved the writing in this book—every chapter had a stand-alone sentence that was just so witty or poignant. The storyline itself was “good” but the way it was written elevated it to a great book.

  • Erica R.

    Ashland, OH

    This gave me “This Is Us” vibes and I was imagining the cast of this novel as a tv show the entire time. It beautifully handles topics that any family may face in their lifetime. Perfect summer read!

  • Jennifer P.

    SAN ANTONIO, TX

    This book is amazing - both timeless and contemporary - Straub writes about “difficult” topics with such ease you wonder why people think they’re difficult to begin with. What an uplifting novel!

  • Hannah S.

    Middleboro, MA

    This story felt so relatable and I really enjoyed it. I found myself laughing at times at the craziness of the characters lives. Each character’s growth was thoroughly developed and I loved this book.

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