Reader's Comments
Modern Lovers by Emma Staub

Modern Lovers

by Emma Staub

PBR Book Review:

I recently listened to MODERN LOVERS by Emma Straub on audio. It was light and entertaining but had enough substance to keep me interested. In the audio version, the voices were clear, distinct, and easy to follow. I was able to dive right into this book from the beginning. It's about two couples who attended to college together. They now live in a hip neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY where they're raising their children. As former college bandmates, they have a colorful past. Some of these issues resurface disrupting their comfortable family life. In a touching and sometimes funny way, they face the universal struggles of life. Fighting through a mid-life crisis or raising teenagers is not easy. Add losing oneself within a marriage and financial woes to the story, and you have a lot to examine. The characters are likable and relatable. And there are plenty of opportunities to get to know them. It was a great read, and I look forward to more from this author.

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*Discussion Questions

1. Modern Lovers explores the concept of aging. How do you think these characters feel about their own journeys into adulthood? How does the adults’ description of youth compare with the teenagers’ experience or description of youth? What about their different perspectives on adulthood? Which of them—the adults or the teens—is more accurate? Is one perspective more true than the other?

2. Lydia soared on to become a star, leaving the rest of Kitty’s Mustache behind. How does Lydia’s success—and subsequent death—affect the current actions of these characters? Specifically, Elizabeth, Zoe, and Andrew—do they see themselves in opposition to Lydia? What if she hadn’t died?

3. Do you think Andrew was right in lying to Elizabeth about his relationship with Lydia? How might things have been different if he had told her the truth from the start?

4. Should Elizabeth have gone through with the Kitty’s Mustache documentary, even without Andrew’s approval? Considering the events that are set in motion, do you think this decision helps their marriage or hinders it in the end?

5. Does the fire at Hyacinth, though devastating at the time, actually lead to a happier marriage for Zoe and Jane? Why or why not?

6. Are Ruby and Harry a good romantic fit? Are they too young to know whether they are?

7. Self-image plays an important role in Modern Lovers. All of these characters have specific ideas about themselves, and often, the realities don’t quite match. Discuss how the characters want to be seen, in comparison with who they actually are.

8. Discuss how the characters’ friendships change over the years—from college to early parenthood to middle age. How are their relationships with one another and their perceptions of themselves linked? How does one affect the other?

Book Summary
Penquin Publishing Group (May 31, 2016 )- Fiction - 368 pages
Friends and former college bandmates Elizabeth and Andrew and Zoe have watched one another marry, buy real estate, and start businesses and families, all while trying to hold on to the identities of their youth. But nothing ages them like having to suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring. Back in the band's heyday, Elizabeth put on a snarl over her Midwestern smile, Andrew let his unwashed hair grow past his chin, and Zoe was the lesbian all the straight women wanted to sleep with. Now nearing fifty, they all live within shouting distance in the same neighborhood deep in gentrified Brooklyn, and the trappings of the adult world seem to have arrived with ease. But the summer that their children reach maturity (and start sleeping together), the fabric of the adult lives suddenly begins to unravel, and the secrets and revelations that are finally let loose—about themselves, and about the famous fourth band member who soared and fell without them—can never be reclaimed. Straub packs wisdom and insight and humor together in a satisfying book about neighbors and nosiness, ambition and pleasure, the excitement of youth, the shock of middle age, and the fact that our passions—be they food, or friendship, or music—never go away, they just evolve and grow along with us.
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