Two years after the publication of the sun-soaked bestseller, The Vacationers, author Emma Straub is back with a new novel that’s destined to be one of the summer’s delicious reads. Modern Lovers tells the story of a group of four friends who, in their youth, performed in a rock-and-roll band together. The one member to trailblaze into a solo star, Lydia, succumbs to fame and dies at 27. As the book zeroes in on the rest, they’re nearing 50 — and those heady hipster days are in the rear-view mirror, far in the past but not far enough that they can escape the constant reminders and reminisces. Elizabeth and Andrew are married; lesbian Zoe is too. They’re all living in gentrified Brooklyn, which speaks volumes and embroiders their middle age-dom with the stereotypical details. Zoe and her wife, Jane, for instance, own a local farm-to-table restaurant. Andrew, meanwhile, does yoga (spinning off another of the book’s plot lines).
Modern Lovers — as with much of Straub’s work — boils down to relationships, the way they meander, evolve, tangle, unravel. There are the relationships between the bandmates as well as the ones between the two sets of parents and their children. Complicating things further is the relationship that develops with this next generation, who are now the college-bound age the friends once were: Elizabeth and Andrew’s son Harry crushes on Zoe and Jane’s daughter Ruby… From start to finish, Straub keeps you entertained as you navigate these intertwined tales, glancing back to the past with them and then forward, looking at their lives from the outside and — inevitably, whether you’re in your twenties or forties, in the throes of hipster-hood or post-rebel yell — mulling over your own.