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All Adults Here: A Novel by [Emma Straub]
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All Adults Here: A Novel Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for All Adults Here:

“Emma Straub is a perfect novelist for summer reading.” —The Wall Street Journal
“You’ll never want to say goodbye to the Strick family of All Adults Here, Emma Straub’s charming fourth novel.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“To describe Emma Straub’s novel All Adults Here without using the word ‘charming’ is like trying to describe an accordion without using your hands. But winsome and big-hearted do fine to characterize Ms. Straub’s loosely knit, multigenerational fourth novel …Tight, flinty Astrid…seems like close kin to Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge.” —The Wall Street Journal
"A master analyst of romantic relationships, Straub trains her eye on family dynamics and small-town life in this witty and wise tale.” —People Magazine
“Delivers a Dose of Normal Life, Right When We Need It. . .  Straub cements her status as a master of the domestic ensemble drama.”—TIME

“Emma Straub's warm-hearted fourth novel confirms her reign as a patron saint of delayed adolescence.”—NPR

“‘Literary sunshine’ is a good way to think of Straub’s work. Her writing and tone are consistently bright and straightforward; her approach to character is warm and generous . . . The main pleasures of All Adults Here ome from Straub’s wry comic instincts (a pair of hyperaggressive twin toddlers are hilariously appalling) and her gimlet eye for cultural observation  . . . Her wit extends out from the individual characters into a larger commentary on the difficulties of becoming an adult, making this an especially rich addition to the author’s body of work.”  —The New York Times

"A beach read with teeth.” —The New Republic

“Undeniably pleasing . . . a kind of thinking-person's beach read that's maybe all the better for arriving in these strange, landlocked times."—Entertainment Weekly

“It’s a credit to Straub’s gifts of wit and observation that she’s made such a loving book so alive. Reading All Adults Here, you feel like maybe your life isn’t so small, that its minor joys and pitfalls are worthy of literature. If only Straub could be the one to document it.”—USA Today

“Deliciously funny and infectiously warm … It's an ideal read for anyone trapped at home with their family while self-isolating. Read it while hiding in your bedroom from the people who are driving you crazy, but who you'd go crazy without.” The Philadelphia Inquirer
“There's no drama like family drama as Emma Straub (Modern Lovers, Other People We Married) proves in this touching, humorous, and eye-opening new novel.” —Town and Country 
“Triumphant.” —The Daily Beast

“An immensely charming and warmhearted book. It’s a vacation for the soul.”—Vox

 “A warm, smart novel that feels both very 'now,' but also timeless in its survey of a family trying to become one again.”—Salon

"Fresh and funny. . .  ripe with the kind of juicy gossip perfect for swapping with a favorite sibling via late-night, hushed phone calls. . . .”—The Washington Post

 “There’s refuge to be found in stories of everyday people going about their lives. . . . Emma Straub has become adept at finding amusement in the mundane, and her newest, All Adults Here, might just be her best yet.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“The queen of the summer novel.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Straub’s best book yet . . .excellent book-group fodder.”—The Washington Post

“Emma Straub’s writing is witty, informal and deceptively simple, drawing readers in as if they’re having a conversation with a close friend.”  —BookPage

All Adults Here is a master class on the small-scale American drama. . . this warm, optimistic novel argues that one should keep trying, regardless. All Adults Here affirms the value of community and family, no matter the strife that may rise up within them.” —Vogue

“The perfect book to read during quarantine if your family is driving you crazy . . . a layered love story that examines, and ultimately celebrates, the modern, multigenerational family dynamic.”—Parade
 “This new novel from New York Times bestselling author of The Vacationers and Modern Lover is at its core about family in all its loving, messy glory… It’s a page-turner that will make you think about what binds families together and drives them apart.” —Good Morning America

"All Adults Here is a novel about how we try and fail at every age and yet somehow survive. It is brimming with kindness, forgiveness, humor and love and yet (magically) is also a page turner that held me captive until it was finished. This is Emma Straub's absolute best and the world will love it. I love it."—Ann Patchett, New York Times bestselling author of Commonwealth

"A totally engaging and smart book about the absolutely marvelous messiness of what makes up family; a wonderful book." —Elizabeth Strout, New York Times bestselling and Pulitzer Prize winning author of Olive Kitteridge and Olive, Again

"Emma Straub's All Adults Here will make you question your entire childhood, and how much your parents influenced it as you learn one mother's perspective of what went right and what went wrong with her own family."—Marie Claire

"No one writes family drama like Straub, and in her new novel All Adults Here, she brings the Strick family to life with her unique wit and wisdom. . . .  It’s a heartfelt, grounded story about family dynamics, forgiveness, and the unavoidable effects we have on those we love."—Buzzfeed

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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, wasnÕt it, that oneÕs hair always looked best on the day of a scheduled trim. She didnÕt wash her hair at home unless theyÕd 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 AstridÕs 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 SusanÕs Bookshop, kitty-corner from SpiroÕs Pancake House, if you peered through the open sides of the white wooden gazebo at the grassy islandÕs center. The professional hair washing was a relic from her motherÕs 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 hadnÕt 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 oneÕs mood.


It was the end of the summer, which meant that soon, from Monday to Friday, Clapham would belong to the year-rounders again. Kids would go back to school, and the summer inhabitants would go back to being weekend inhabitants, and life would return to its quieter pace. Astrid inspected her skin for spots. Ticks and skin cancer were the twin fears of anyone who spent time outdoors in the Hudson Valley, certainly for those over the age of twenty-five. In the rearview mirror, Astrid watched Clapham go about its morning routines: women with rolled-up yoga mats plodded slowly out of the municipal hall, well-off summer residents strolled the sidewalks, looking for something to buy that they had somehow missed during the last three months, locals sat drinking coffee at the counter at Spiro's and at Croissant City, where every sixty-five-year-old man in Clapham could be found with a newspaper at 7:30 a.m., seven days a week. Frank, who owned the hardware store, which sold everything from window fans and fresh eggs to batteries and a small collection of DVDs, was standing beneath his awning as his teenage son pulled up the iron gate. The small shops that sold T-shirts and sweatshirts that read clapham in large block letters didn't open until noon. The fanciest clothing store on Main Street, Boutique Etc?, whose name Astrid had always found both grammatically and philosophically irritating, opened at noon, too, which Astrid knew because she begrudgingly bought most of her clothing there.


Astrid let her eyes wander to the eyesore, the bte noire of every Clapham resident, both year-round and summer interloper-the unweildy, trapezoidal building that had been empty for a year, the large space inside totally bare except for things abandoned by the most recent tenant: a ladder, two cans of paint, and three overstuffed garbage bags. There was a Sold sign in the window, with a telephone number, but the telephone number had long since been disconnected. The county records, which were available to anyone who cared to look-and Astrid had-said that the building had indeed been sold a year ago, but no one knew to whom, and whoever it was, they'd done nothing but let the dust bunnies proliferate. What went in was important: If it was some big-box store, or a national chain, it would be war. A death knell for the town as the residents knew it. When Rite Aid came in, not even to Clapham proper but to the outskirts of town, which did need a pharmacy, people lost their minds. Astrid still had a keep local, shop small sign in the dirt next to her mailbox. She'd spent her own money making the signs and distributing them. And if that had been in the village itself? Astrid couldn't imagine. If the person who bought the building didn't know or didn't care, there would be riots in the street, and Astrid would carry the biggest pitchfork.


Because the storefront was on the eastern tip of the roundabout, the direction from which most cars entered Clapham, the large empty windows were what welcomed people to town, a very sorry state of affairs. At least Sal's Pizzeria, directly next door, was charming, with its red-and-white-tiled walls and its boxes printed with a portrait of its mustachioed proprietor.


Barbara was standing on the sidewalk, just beside the mailbox in front of Shear Beauty. Her car, a green Subaru hatchback with a "My Other Car Is a Cat" bumper sticker, was parked in front of the municipal building, which held the mayor's office, a co-op preschool, yoga classes, and the winter farmers' market, among other things. Was she getting back into her car after mailing a letter? Was she looking across the street, squinting at the Sold sign, as if it would offer any new information? Astrid would never know. She watched as Barbara stepped around the front bumper of her car and into the street, and then Astrid continued to watch as the yellow sixty-four-seat Clapham Junior High School bus came barreling down the street, knocking Barbara down as neatly and quietly as her grandsons' toy soldiers. Astrid snapped the visor closed and leapt out of the car. By the time she'd crossed the street, half a dozen people had already gathered. There was blood, but nothing gorier than a twelve-year-old could see on network television. Astrid had seen death up close before, but not like this, not on the street like a raccoon.


"It was empty," Randall said. He owned the gas station, which made him an easy authority on vehicles. "Except for the driver. No kids."


"Should I cover her up? I shouldn't cover her up, should I? Should I?" said Louise, who taught the yoga class, a rather dim, sweet girl who couldn't remember her lefts and rights.


"I've got the police," said a nervous-looking man, which was, of course, the right thing to do, even though the police station was two blocks away, and clearly there was nothing for the police to do, at least not for Barbara. "Hello," he said, into the phone, turning away, as if to shield the other bystanders from what was still on the pavement. "There's been an accident."


"Oh, for Chrissakes," Birdie said, coming out of her shop. She saw Astrid and pulled her aside. They clutched each other's elbows and stood there in silence until the police arrived, at which point Astrid offered Barbara's husband's phone number and address. She'd always kept an organized address book, and this was why, just in case. The EMTs scooped Barbara's body up and put her on the stretcher, an unflippable pancake. When the ambulance had gone, Birdie pushed Astrid gently toward the salon's door.


Shear Beauty had made some improvements over the years, some attempts at modernization. The mirrors were frameless, and the wallpaper was silver with a gray geometric pattern, all of it meant to make the place seem sophisticated, which it wasnÕt particularly. Birdie never could let go of the bowls of dusty potpourri in the bathroom or the embroidered pillows on the bench at the entrance. If someone wanted a fancier place, they were welcome to find one.


"I can't believe it," Astrid said. She set her purse down on the bench. The salon was empty, as it always was on Mondays, when Shear Beauty was closed to the public. "I can't believe it. I'm in shock, I'm definitely in shock. Listen to me! My brain is nonfunctional." She stopped. "Am I having an aneurysm?"


"You're not having an aneurysm. Those people just drop dead." Birdie gently guided Astrid by the elbow and sat her down at the sink. "Just try to relax." Birdie also cut hair at Heron Meadows, the assisted living facility on the edge of the Clapham border, and she had a certain sangfroid approach to the mortal coil. Everyone shuffled, in the end. Astrid sat and leaned back until her neck touched the cold porcelain of the sink. She closed her eyes and listened to Birdie turn on the warm water, testing its temperature against her hand.


If Randall was right and the bus had been empty-that was important. Astrid had three children and three grandchildren, and even if she hadn't, the loss of a child was the most acute tragedy, followed closely by a young parent, followed by cancer researchers, sitting presidents, movie stars, and everybody else. People their age-Astrid's and Barbara's-were too old for it to be outright tragedy, and seeing as Barbara had no children of her own, people were bound to call it a blessing, that is to say, a blessing that the school bus hadn't run down someone else. But that didn't seem fair to Barbara. She'd had a husband, and cats. She'd been a crossing guard at the elementary school decades earlier-oh, the irony! At least it wasn't her corner, Astrid thought, exhaling while Birdie scratched her scalp with her short nails.


What was Barbara thinking about, when the bus was careering toward her? Why had she parked there and not across the street? What was on her list to do that day? Astrid sat up, her hair dripping on her neck and her blouse.


"Are you all right?" Birdie asked, moving a towel onto Astrid's shoulders.


"No," Astrid said, "I don't think so. I didn't even-you know this-I didn't even like Barbara. I just feel a little, well, shaken."


"Well, in that case," Birdie said, walking around to the front of the chair, crouching down so that she and Astrid were at eye level, "let's go into the back." Birdie's mouth was a straight line, as steady as a Catholic schoolteacher. She always had a solution.


Astrid nodded slowly and offered Birdie her hand. They walked around the half wall behind the sink, into the room where an eyebrow-less young woman named Jessica waxed off other people's body hair three days a week, and lay down next to each other on the twin-size mattress, Astrid on her back and Birdie propped up on an elbow. Astrid closed her eyes, suddenly exhausted. As usual, because after so long, there was a certain rhythm and sequence to what would unfold, Birdie started softly kissing Astrid's cheeks and ears and neck, everything but her mouth, but today was different, and Astrid reached up and pulled Birdie's mouth straight to her own. There was no time to waste, not in this life. There were always more school buses-how many times did a person have to be reminded? This time, it was clear. She was a sixty-eight-year-old widow. Better late than never.

--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • Publisher : Riverhead Books (May 4, 2020)
  • Publication date : May 4, 2020
  • Language : English
  • File size : 1596 KB
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Enabled
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print length : 366 pages
  • Lending : Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
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