A Fortunate Age is the debut novel by Joanna Smith Rakoff. The novel follows a group of friends in New York City over the course of about a decade starting in the late 1990’s. The friends originally met while they were students at Oberlin (which just so happens to be the author’s alma mater). The group of friends is comprised of Lil, Beth,Emily, Sadie, Tal and Dave who each have their own dreams and hang-ups. The main focus of the book is their friendship and how the dynamic between them changes over the years. There is not really a plot; the book is more of a character study…of 6 characters.
The chapters are like vignets about a specific friend, where the other friends play background roles. Unfortunately, this made it hard for me to connect with any one of the 6 friends. Sometimes I found myself flipping back to earlier in the book to try to keep track of which character was which. The transition from one character’s perspective to another were confusing since they would also often be accompanied by leaps forward in time.
The characters in the novel are only slightly older than I am, so what they went through with the job market and current events of the time struck a chord with me. However, most of the characters seemed too whiny. None of them seemed like someone that I would want to have as a friend. For a book about friendship, I saw that as a negative.
I received an ARC of A Fortunate Age from Barnes & Nobles First Look The novel will be released in April 2009.