All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg

Publication Date: March 7th, 2017
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

“Who is Andrea Bern? When her therapist asks the question, Andrea knows the right things to say: she’s a designer, a friend, a daughter, a sister. But it’s what she leaves unsaid—she’s alone, a drinker, a former artist, a shrieker in bed, captain of the sinking ship that is her flesh—that feels the most true. Everyone around her seems to have an entirely different idea of what it means to be an adult: her best friend, Indigo, is getting married; her brother—who miraculously seems unscathed by their shared tumultuous childhood—and sister-in-law are having a hoped-for baby; and her friend Matthew continues to wholly devote himself to making dark paintings at the cost of being flat broke. But when Andrea’s niece finally arrives, born with a heartbreaking ailment, the Bern family is forced to reexamine what really matters. Will this drive them together or tear them apart?

Told in gut-wrenchingly honest, mordantly comic vignettes, All Grown Up is a breathtaking display of Jami Attenberg’s power as a storyteller, a whip-smart examination of one woman’s life, lived entirely on her own terms.”


Andrea Bern struggles through her life. It’s quite obvious. Things happen around her like her brother having a baby, her best friend getting married, etc., and she doesn’t want anything to do with it. She has all of these adjectives for herself that she won’t dare speak of out loud. Alone, drinker, a former artist, a shrieker in bed. She goes through life living on her own terms, not getting married, not having children, etc. I have to say that I had high expectations for this book, and for me it fell a little flat.

First, I believe that I was waiting for a moving story, but that doesn’t really happen. It really is just sad all the way through. Andrea does live life her way, but she’s unhappy doing so. I was expecting her to make some sort of a change or something along those lines. I was expecting a pretty fast paced, inspiring novel considering how short it was. I was disappointed to find that’s not what I got.

Next, I couldn’t like any of the characters. I couldn’t connect to any of them. Andrea especially was hard to grasp. The moments where the other characters were involved were extremely short lived. Andrea was just a girl who couldn’t take any other advice. She was a drinker, drug addict, and what seems like a sex addict. I really wanted to like her, but I like someone who accepts help when it’s needed.

Lastly, I can appreciate the honesty of this book. There was no hiding. Andrea was completely honest and upfront about everything she did. Maybe that was the point of this book, but I wasn’t really feeling it. It was only 197 pages, but it was extremely depressing all 197 pages.

Overall, I think this book had a lot of potential, but nothing happened for it to get a higher rating from me. I think it was extremely honest, but very, very sad. It didn’t grasp me from the beginning and I had a hard time getting into it. I wish I could’ve liked this book more.

Rating: ★★

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