Invincible Summer by Alice Adams
Published by Little, Brown and Company
Review copy provided by Netgalley
From the publisher:
Inseparable throughout college, Eva, Benedict, Sylvie, and Lucien graduate in 1997, into an exhilarating world on the brink of a new millennium. Hopelessly in love with playboy Lucien and eager to shrug off the socialist politics of her upbringing, Eva breaks away to work for a big bank. Benedict, a budding scientist who’s pined for Eva for years, stays on to complete his PhD in physics, devoting his life to chasing particles as elusive as the object of his affection. Siblings Sylvie and Lucien, never much inclined toward mortgages or monogamy, pursue more bohemian existences-she as an aspiring artist and he as a club promoter and professional partyer. But as their twenties give way to their thirties, the group struggles to navigate their thwarted dreams. Scattered across Europe and no longer convinced they are truly the masters of their fates, the once close-knit friends find themselves filled with longing for their youth – and for one another. Broken hearts and broken careers draw the foursome together again, but in ways they never could have imagined.
A dazzling depiction of the highs and lows of adulthood, Invincible Summer is a story about finding the courage to carry on in the wake of disappointment, and a powerful testament to love and friendship as the constants in an ever-changing world.
I suppose there have been a few books recently that follow a similar formula – college friends graduate and let’s see what becomes of their lives and their friendships for years after – but I don’t think I’ve read any in recent memory, so the concept was relatively fresh for me when I picked up Invincible Summer. And I really enjoyed the book!
The author definitely allows the reader to get to know Eva better than the other three characters, and as a result I was drawn to her character the most. Either that, or she was the most similar to me in personality – or both. For whatever the reason, I was drawn to her and liked her character quite a bit. I deeply understood her struggle growing up without a ton of opportunities and being immersed in friendships with people who were privileged in every way – that felt so similar to my own experiences growing up and I just got where she was coming from. I understood her drive and determination to be financially successful in life at absolutely any cost. While I didn’t get her attraction to Lucien in the beginning of the novel, I could certainly relate to falling for the wrong guy – and she certainly fell hard for him, the WAY wrong guy. It’s a good thing that Eva’s story propelled most of the book forward because she was definitely my favorite of the four.
Sylvie was a character I didn’t care for at ALL for most of the book. However, Adams definitely did the most with her character development out of all four of them and I was really impressed with her story. It felt a bit all over the place, but when things kind of settled down, Sylvie was probably the most interesting and remarkable character of the four.
Lucien was just … there. He was the most one-dimensional of all of them, didn’t display much in the way of development, and overall kind of seemed to exist within the novel. I think Adams could have done a lot more with him, to be honest.
Benedict. Oh, Benedict. I was not a fan of Benedict either, and even looking back on the book I can’t quite wrap my head around him as a character. He came across as pretty spineless to me, for almost all of the book, and so many of his actions frustrated the hell out of me. In the end, Adams painted a picture of all of his mistakes and missteps and second-guessing of himself turning into a pretty fantastic life that wouldn’t have become what it was had he not made those mistakes. But still. I don’t know about this guy.
Even with me only liking one of the characters, really, the book was super fun for me to read. I just fell into the story, into their lives, into all the twists and turns that happened to them and that they caused by both good and bad decisions. You could say that nothing really happens in the book, but you could also say that a ton of stuff happens. It was just, honestly, an enjoyable experience and I’ll definitely be looking for what else this author has to offer me.
Also – this trope of following a group of friends for years after school? Can I have more of this, please? Any recommendations of other novels that do this really well?