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The Adults

The Adults

A Novel

  • reading group guide
  • customer reviews
In her ruefully funny and wickedly perceptive debut novel, Alison Espach deftly dissects matters of the heart and captures the lives of children and adults as they come to terms with life, death, and love.
At the center of this affluent suburban universe is Emily Vidal, a smart and snarky teenager, who gets involved in a suspect relationship with one of the adults after witnessing a suicide in her neighborhood. Among the cast of unforgettable characters is Emily’s father, whose fiftieth birthday party has the adults descending upon the Vidal’s patio; her mother, who has orchestrated the elaborate party even though she and her husband are getting a divorce; and an assortment of eccentric neighbors, high school teachers, and teenagers who teem with anxiety and sexuality and an unbridled desire to be noticed, and ultimately loved.

An irresistible chronicle of a modern young woman’s struggle to grow up, The Adults lays bare—in perfect pitch—a world where an adult and a child can so dangerously be mistaken for the same exact thing.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439191873 | 
  • February 2011
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Read an Excerpt

The Adults 1
They arrived in bulk, in Black Tie Preferred, in one large clump behind our wooden fence, peering over each other’s shoulders and into our backyard like people at the zoo who wanted a better view of the animals.

My father’s fiftieth birthday party had just begun.

It’s true that I was expecting something. I was fourteen, my hair still sticky with lemon from the beach, my lips... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Adults includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Alison Espach. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

INTRODUCTION

Emily Marie Vidal stands at the epicenter of a bizarre suburban universe where neighbors commit suicide, high school teachers have affairs with their students, and someone needs to be lit on fire to stop an even more heinous act from occurring. These situations send her on a physical and emotional journey that will take her from suburban Connecticut to Prague to New York City and back to Connecticut in an effort to find happiness, solace, and even love.

The Adults chronicles Emily’s coming-of-age in a modern world where an adult and a child can so dangerously be mistaken for the same thing.


TOPICS & QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION


  1. The opening scene of The Adults is a garden party celebrating Victor Vidal’s fiftieth birthday party. Discuss your first impressions of Emily’s parents and friends. How does Emily struggle to identify with the people around her?

  2. How do Emily’s parents break the news of their divorce to her? How does she reac
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