Grown Ups by Marie Aubert – Book review

Grown Ups is a short, sharp slice of family drama, taking place over a few days at an idyllic lakeside cabin in Norway. Translated from its original Norwegian by Rosie Hedger, Grown Ups was a one session read for me. I was highly engrossed in the detail and drama of sisters, Ida and Marthe.

Opening sentence: Other people’s children, always, everywhere.

Sibling rivalry is real

Sometimes, there’s nothing like a bit of sibling rivalry to get the truth to bubble to the surface. As is the case here, in Grown Ups. 40-year-old architect, Ida takes a trip to her family’s cabin to celebrate her mother’s 65th birthday.

Ida’s sister Marthe is already there with her husband, Kristoffer and her stepdaughter, Olea.

While Marthe has the husband and child boxes ticked, Ida is single and finds herself longing for a child. It’s hard not to compare her life with her younger sister’s and feel resentment while working out exactly what it is she wants. In short, when will she ever feel like a proper grown up?

She has Kristoffer, and soon she’ll have a baby of her own and still she complains.

A one session read

What was so delicious and readable about this book was the simmering under-surface tension that merged with highly relatable moments of frustration, pain and pettiness. If you are someone who doesn’t always express their emotions in the best way, or has a sibling, you’ll really feel for Ida and her attempts to process her feelings.

I feel the words on the tip of my tongue, eager to escape, they taste sweet and dark.

From its insightful and concise exploration of family dynamics to its dry, often funny tone, sudden moments of heartache and the beautiful Norwegian countryside it conjured up in my head, I just loved everything about Grown Ups. Also – special mention for that gorgeous cover.

  • Get your copy of Grown Ups here;
  • Translated by Rosie Hedger;
  • First published in Norwegian in 2019. This translated edition published by Pushkin Press 5th May 2022;
  • 160 pages;
  • My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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