The Adults

by Alison Espach
Published by Dreamscape
Literary Fiction/Literature

Library Journal Top 10 Fiction for 2011

Booklist Editor’s Choice Top Adult Audiobooks of 2011

Booklist Starred Review

The title of this novel hints at the ironic humor that characterizes its unconventional coming-of-age story. At the age of 14, Emily realizes that the dysfunctional people in her family and upscale suburban community are not credible adults. It’s clear that she will have to grow into maturity on her own. Narrator Tavia Gilbert deftly captures Emily’s vulnerability, confusion, and wry analysis as she encounters people and experiences that make her journey unique. Gilbert’s unaffected presentation avoids sensationalizing Emily’s rough language or the occasional description of a sexual encounter. Subtle shifts of tone are all Gilbert needs to give Emily a convincing voice through her ten-year journey of transformation from troubled adolescent to her own version of successful adult. AudioFile Magazine


Espach’s coming-of-age debut novel examines what it means to be an adult. Fourteen-year-old Emily Marie Vidal’s life begins veering off the predictable course of privileged life in a wealthy Connecticut town at her father’s fiftieth birthday party. During the festivities on the grounds of their sprawling home, Emily spots her father kissing next-door-neighbor Mrs. Resnick, the mother of Emily’s friend Matt. Soon Emily’s parents announce they are divorcing, Mrs. Resnick announces her pregnancy, and Mr. Resnick hangs himself in his yard as helpless Emily looks on. Emily enters into a 10-year, on-again, off-again affair with her English teacher. Although this may sound like the makings of a lightweight romance, Espach manages to create something grander, a novel full of wit, emotion, and sensitivity, resulting in an engaging roller coaster of a listening experience. Gilbert is pitch-perfect in her delivery of the cast of likable—and unlikable—characters, including snarky teens and dramatic adults. She comes up with a multitude of distinct voices—ranging from toddler tones and teenspeak inflections to supercilious adults. The characters are memorable and totally fleshed out by Gilbert in this wry story, which follows Emily to adulthood. Pacing is dependent on the characters’ emotional responses: weariness, anger, surprise, morosity, passion. This thoroughly engaging production propels listeners to a satisfying, if not thought-provoking, conclusion. Booklist


Our audio reviewer asserted that “Audie Award nominee Tavia Gilbert’s narration adds candid poignancy to the story” about a teenage girl’s coming-of-age among adults behaving badly in mid-1990s suburban Connecticut. This is a novel that begs to be heard—literally—and is the perfect example of a top-flight narrator enhancing a story beyond the original print. Library Journal