The Adults (Hardcover)

A Novel

By Alison Espach

Scribner, 9781439191859, 320pp.

Publication Date: February 1, 2011

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (9/6/2011)
Pre-Recorded Audio Player (5/1/2011)
Compact Disc (2/1/2011)

List Price: 25.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


   In her ruefully funny and wickedly perceptive debut novel, Alison Espach deftly dissects matters of the heart and captures the lives of children and adults as they come to terms with life, death, and love.
At the center of this affluent suburban universe is Emily Vidal, a smart and snarky teenager, who gets involved in a suspect relationship with one of the adults after witnessing a suicide in her neighborhood.  Among the cast of unforgettable characters is Emily’s father, whose fiftieth birthday party has the adults descending upon the Vidal’s patio; her mother, who has orchestrated the elaborate party even though she and her husband are getting a divorce; and an assortment of eccentric neighbors, high school teachers, and teenagers who teem with anxiety and sexuality and an unbridled desire to be noticed, and ultimately loved.

An irresistible chronicle of a modern young woman’s struggle to grow up, The Adults lays bare—in perfect pitch—a world where an adult and a child can so dangerously be mistaken for the same exact thing.



About the Author

Alison Espach is a graduate of the Washington University in St. Louis MFA program.  Her writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, Five Chapters, Glamour and other magazines. She grew up in Connecticut and now teaches creative writing in New York.

Praise For The Adults: A Novel

“This cri de coeur carries a freshness and charm — honorable, too, for its cutting accuracy.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“It’s hard to be a teenager, but it’s even harder for a writer to capture a teen’s voice in fiction. . . . [Alison Espach] masters her teen’s voice exceptionally well.” –Washington Post

"Espach is a gifted writer, making Emily brave, bold and timid all at once." —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Coming of age with a quick wit and a sharp eye…The Adults is as idiosyncratic as it is stirring.” -New York Times

An “outstanding coming-of-age novel….one of the funniest books I've read in a long time. Ms. Espach's coup is to chart Emily's growth through her maturing sense of humor.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Tom Perrotta meets Curtis Sittenfeld in this razor-sharp debut by Alison Espach, who weaves a wry, devastatingly perceptive coming-of-age tale set in Connecticut’s affluent suburbs.” -Marie Claire

“Wry rather than out-loud funny, laced with melancholy and angst, this book is an enviable first effort.” —Kirkus

"Alison Espach has written her debut novel in one of the most authentic and memorable voices I have ever read. Finding myself on every page of this heartbreaking and hysterically funny book, I began to have the same strange suspicion I had the first time I read Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, Yates's Revolutionary Road and Eugenides's The Virgin Suicides: the impossible belief that the author might have written this book specifically for me. Like those classics, The Adults is wholly original, astonishingly true, and absolutely vital." -Stefan Merrill Block

A “smart first novel.” —People Magazine

"With shining prose and razor-sharp wit, Alison Espach writes about the murky landscape between childhood and adulthood, the mistakes and misunderstandings, the betrayals and the beauty. THE ADULTS is a piercing and authentic journey through adolescence, filled with squeamish missteps and laugh-out-loud insights, wrenching heartache, and characters so rich and tenderly drawn that one can’t help but love them through all their flaws and failures. I absolutely adored this book." — Aryn Kyle, author of The God of Animals and Boys and Girls Like You and Me

"Every single sentence has tragicomic verve in The Adults. Alison Espach's coming-of-age novel is jaggedly funny, moving when you least expect it, and wise beyond its years. Parental guidance is strictly optional to enjoy this gem of a debut." -Teddy Wayne, author of Kapitoil

"In her impossible-to-put-down debut novel, Alison Espach manages to marry youthful exuberance with deep adult sorrow, quick-silver wit with trenchant observation. The world of The Adults is a familiar one but the voice and the brain at work here are anything but, sparkling and unexpectable and irresistibly wise." -Kathryn Davis, author of The Thin Place