the heartbreak of growing up

"Read this book," they said. "It's a very funny novel," they said. "Witty. sly, wry. clever, hilarious," they said. And it certainly had it's fun moments. 

And then the author shattered me with this story. 

The novel? All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg. It came out earlier this year, and everyone raved about it, calling it a fantastic novel and funny as hell. And it is. But it's such an intimate portrait of this character that it became the most personal novel I've ever read. 

Andrea Bern is a single Jewish woman in New York. She has a job, which she speaks of only vaguely and despises. After college, she went to grad school in Chicago to become an artist, a painter, but instead has her heart broken by her mentor and could never seem to get past that. She dates but doesn't seem willing or able to maintain a long-term relationship. She is close to her mother, and she adores her brother, a musician like their father. But family struggles are difficult. Relationship struggles are difficult. Everything is difficult, as Andrea faces 40 and wonders what to do with the rest of her life. 

This powerful and moving novel is a very intimate look at how women feel about aging, about men, about their friends, about their family. It demonstrates with depth and deftness how women adapt to change and how we develop meaning in our lives. It's about the choices we make, the mistakes we make, the heartbreak we have to face, and how we move on. 

This is a fun novel to read, it's not overly long, and I recommend it to all women. Single women, married women, women with kids, women without kids. This book has something important to say to all of us, and it brings with it all the feels. It's a slice of real life, and it will stay in my mind and in my heart for a long time.