modern lovers is about a group of friends who went to college together and are now tackling adulthood in their brooklyn neighborhood. elizabeth, andrew, and zoe, used to be in a band in their college days. the fourth (and most famous) band member died tragically but continues to complicate their lives as they settle into parenthood and evalaute their friendships and marriages as their own children prepare to leave home for college. the web of stories between the parents and their children are profoundly relatable and comforting; straub reminds readers that it is ok to wonder about what could have been, normal to feel unsure about a relationship even when you love the one you’re with, and natural to constantly want more than what is right in front of you. the modern lovers cast love each other through such challenges.
“There were ducks in the lake, swimming from one side to the other, and Harry wondered when ducks slept, and how long they lived with their parents. Then he wondered if kids who grew up in Manhattan thought ducks were mythological creatures, like cows, things that existed only in picture books and in cheese commercials. Or may be they had ducks there, too, in the park.”
“There was nothing about youth that was fair: the young hadn’t done anything to deserve it, and the old hadn’t done anything to drive it away. Andrew thought about Harry and the stolen photos and Ruby and her purple hair, and even though part of him wanted to call Zoe and Jane back and tell them even more, mostly he wanted to know how it was that he wasn’t the child anymore, how his baby boy had become a teenager, and how it was possible that he–Andrew Marx!–would soon be fifty.”
“For the rest of his life, no matter where he was or what he was doing, hearing the first few chords of that one song would bring him back to Ruby’s tongue and to feeling like the luckiest boy in Brooklyn.”
“His head was sloshy and heavy, a bucket filled with wet leaves. He blinked a few times before turning in the direction Elizabeth was looking. When he did, he was sorry he had. He should have sewn his eyelids shut and stayed down, like an animal playing dead.”