Review: Adults – Emma Jane Unsworth

This book was one of my most anticipated books of 2020 – I actually haven’t read Unsworth’s hugely acclaimed Animals yet, but the description of Adults just immediately grabbed me. It sounded like a warm and hugely funny take on what it is like to be a woman in her 30s in the modern world, and gave me strong Fleabag vibes!

On first glance things seem to be going okay for the main character, Jenny – she owns her own house, works for a super-on-trend feminist magazine, and spends her days socialising – mainly on her phone, but occasionally in real life (if it is something Gram-able). But although Jenny is, at 30, technically an adult, she definitely doesn’t feel like one.

As I turned the first few pages, I could see right away that it was going to be hilarious – there is such a natural and genuinely laugh-out-loud humour to Unsworth’s writing. Jenny is often frustrating and ridiculous – a bit of a parody of modern 30-something on the surface. After the breakdown of her “proper relationship” with boyfriend Art, Jenny finds herself distancing herself from her friends and her family. But she feels has no choice but to simply pick herself up and get on with things. As she says, there’s no place for vulnerability at the “front-line of feminism”, in a world that’s looking for “a roar from the lady jungle, not a whimper”. Most importantly, what hashtag should accompany her picture of her morning croissant (which is actually stale and extremely disappointing) to show just how over Art she is?

I have to say that when I thought I had the measure of this book – witty, wry and wonderfully observant – it then took me a bit by surprise. At first, Jenny’s addiction to her phone and her social media life seemed like a bit of a tongue in cheek exaggeration of modern day life. But as I continued reading, the book drew me in more and more, as I got to know Jenny better and see see behind her carefully selected Instagram filters. Beneath the humour of Jenny’s theatrical daily struggles, the novel gradually shows us she is often deflecting from her innermost fears – of not being wanted, of her and her body not being good enough. What I found here at the heart of the novel really got to me, and left me feeling quite exposed and raw: sometimes sad and self-pitying, but ultimately immensely proud and grateful for women, and our capacity to feel, share and love.

Adults is out today (30th Jan 2020) with The Borough Press. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for sending me an eCopy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

I know lots of us book bloggers were super excited when news of this book hit! Would love to hear what you all think of it.

Sophie @Sophie_Jo_Books  📚🐾

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