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And Then We Grew Up By Rachel Friedman

Are you looking for a nonfiction book about creativity and adulthood? Discover what happens when childhood dreams go astray and their adult consequences in And Then We Grew Up By Rachel Friedman.

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Do you ever wonder what would have happened if you chose a different path? Or, do you think about your childhood and all of the things that you quit or gave up? Who would you have become if you stuck with it? Were you destined to be where and who you are today? How do we live with our present selves?

Even more so, how can we move forward to be happy and creative? What is the meaning of success and in whose eyes?

And Then We Grew Up by Rachel Friedman evaluates these questions and offers insight into our fantasies, reality, and how our creative childhood selves fare as adults, especially in regards to fulfilling careers.

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Author: Rachel Friedman
Publisher: Penguin Books | An Imprint of Penguin Random House
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Genre: Memoir | Creativity
Pages: 221

I would like to thank the author, Rachel Friedman, and Penguin Books for sending me a free copy of And Then We Grew Up in exchange for a fair and honest review. I heard about this memoir through my book blogging and foodie buddy, CJ of A Well-Read Tart.

Grab Your Copy Of And Then We Grew Up by Rachel Friedman On Book Depository or Amazon.

With a recent divorce in her back pocket as well as a writing career that doesn’t pay the bills, Friedman looks back at her life and how she got here. Sounds a tad reminiscent of Elizabeth Gilbert, right?

Unlike Gilbert, though, Friedman doesn’t hop on a plane to escape it all in a bowl of pasta. Instead, Friedman faces this unhappiness and these feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and failure head-on with a retrospective blast into the past.

When Childhood Dreams Fail Us

Friedman played the viola as a child and spent summers at a competitive and prestigious arts camp, Interlochen, in Michigan. Although the star in her own hometown, Friedman eventually learns that her local greatness translates to mediocrity in the larger pool of talented people–a feeling many of us achieve in college, as well.

Truth Bomb: Hard work and practice do not always help us achieve our goals or be successful, either.

Ultimately frustrated and no longer loving her once passion, Friedman quits the viola at an early age and dabbles in other fields far into her adult life. Even with great successes in her 20’s, she lands back in the same situation: unfulfilled, bills adding up, and wondering what happened to her creativity.

Did giving up in childhood totally screw her future?

Friedman cannot help but to look back at her potential. Could she have become someone else or was that life imaginary to begin with? A mere far-reaching fantasy or dream? A sugar-coated memory?

Even more pressing: what were Friedman’s Interlochen friends up too? What became of them and their creative talents? Did they make it? And what did ‘making it’ even look like as an adult?

Looking At What Success And Creativity In Adulthood Entails

In effect, Friedman rounds up her childhood friends, most of whom she never kept in touch with. Bless their hearts for even wanting to be a part of this and Friedman for trying and admitting her own shortcomings.

Through a series of casual interviews, Friedman narrowly avoids the comparison game but also wants to know and understand her former campmates’ unexpected insights into adulthood, especially in regards to creativity, work, and passion.

Are You Looking For Other Books That Make You Think?

Rachel Friedman’s And Then We Grew Up, is a book that will make you reevaluate your current life and past decisions. If you are looking for even more books that make you consider your own potential, you’ll love this book list.

And The Results…

Friedman uncovers the importance of balance–matching idealism with realism–along with happiness and self-validation. She watches the ups and downs of careers and evaluates persistence and hard work against talent and luck.

Sometimes, the process is better than the outcome, but how do we still make a living from the journey?

Are creative people just ‘art monsters’ who live out these stereotypical starving and selfish artistic lives? And if not, how do these eccentric folk navigate the real world?

No spoilers here, but ultimately, Friedman finds that creativity takes on many forms for different people. Nothing is wrong with an ‘ordinary’ life and everything is in how to you see and accept it. Plus, social media is pretty much…well you know, a farce.

There are no real answers to these angsty questions, but only how we chose to move on, grow, stay creative in our own way, and be content with our chosen path. Lost dreams aren’t the end of the world as we grow and change.

There truly seems to be no correct answer or finality about our potential versus our future.

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A Reexamination Of Our Youth

As a blogger who was also once a teacher and a librarian, Friedman’s concepts and ideas speak to me. As a kid, I quit a lot of things that I didn’t love: tennis and swimming lessons, the clarinet, and volleyball to name a few. Mind you, Friedman initially loves the viola. I thought the clarinet sucked, and I’d rather read a book.

I pursued these alleged interests not only to channel my creativity (a girl needs hobbies) but because I felt that I had to. Immense peer pressure and the idea that these activities were what everyone did forced me to join the club. Yet, I never wanted to play an instrument, and even as a young child, I knew not to keep doing or wasting time with things you don’t love or could never excel at.

And let’s face it, you can still do something and stink at it as long as you love what you are doing. However, if you want that thing to be your career, you might be in trouble. Friedman isn’t afraid to address this.

Why do we quit? When do we keep going, and when do we stop? Why did we even start to begin with? And does that have an impact on who we are as adults?

While Friedman isn’t quite talking about quitting the same types of activities that I did in And Then We Grew Up, her nuanced revelations about finding our way and being creative still ring true.

Friedman is also a travel writer. Discover other inspirational travel writers Here.

Rachel Friedman’s first novel, The Good Girl’s Guide To Getting Lost, is a travel memoir. If you love adventurous and soul-seeking travel books, try this book list, including titles from Anthony Bourdain, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Bill Bryson.

It’s OK To Quit And Be Ordinary

Plus, It’s OK to be a quitter. Gosh, I wish more people told us that more frequently–and Friedman is here to do just that.

I also love her other truth bombs: We don’t have to know what we want to be when we grow up. We may never find out. And, the idea of being someone special or extraordinary is garbage too. Being ordinary is pretty damn satisfying.

Can Friedman be my childhood therapist? I would have breathed much easier.

Modern Adulthood

Most importantly, And Then We Grew Up speaks to modern adulthood, the artistic life, and overall, our growing discontent with our careers and the present. Heck, after over 15+ years of a 9-5 lifestyle, even I had enough of losing myself to meaningless jobs, although they let me take wonderful trips abroad each year.

Why wasn’t I that kid who loved writing stories anymore?

Feel Less Alone Knowing You Aren’t The Only One

If you are like me, you will feel less alone reading Friendman’s memoir. Many of her interviewees jump around and are still searching for the best fit. They hop from dream to dream. And like Friedman says, it’s OK for this idea to change over time. Our identities are meant to be fluid.

There really is no right answer to all of the questions we have about our potential–but rest assured, most of us have these questions and doubt at some point.

I appreciate Friedman’s thought process and raw honesty. She quotes and references numerous sources for the creative process, including my favorites like Gilbert and Rowling.

The premise of And Then We Grew Up is one that is both thought-provoking and somewhat universal; although, as Friedman points out, this is more of a middle-class storyline. There are limitations to its relatability.

A Few Aspects I Didn’t Love About And Then We Grew Up

Not as poignant or engaging as Gilbert, I waivered along the lines of boredom. Most of the time, though, Friedman cranked my gears in such a productive and unique way–no one has quite told a story like this.

I also questioned Friedman’s sometimes altruistic motivations–which most of the time seemed more sincere and just curious. But, how much did I care throughout some of the story…

The flow of the memoir felt a tad contrived but not distracting, and at times, I questioned if certain stories required as much elaboration. I would have loved a more prominent and cohesive ending.

Overall, though, I am glad that I read And Then We Grew Up, especially since I could relate. I left all that I know to become a travel writer and blogger. Friedman’s book is perfect for the soul caught in between passion and work.

She speaks to so many of us, and I know so many readers will champion her messages and self-discovery process as well. Friedman is an inspiration in a new kind of way.

About And Then We Grew Up Author, Rachel Friedman

Rachel Friedman is the author of The Good Girl’s Guide To Getting Lost, one of Goodreads best travel books of 2011. Friedman graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and a creative nonfiction program at Rutgers-Newark. Currently, she lives in Brooklyn. Read more about Rachel Friedman here.

Christine Owner The Uncorked Librarian LLC with white brunette female in pink dress sitting in chair with glass of white wine and open bookPin
Christine Frascarelli

Christine (she/her) is the owner, lead editor, and tipsy book sommelier of The Uncorked Librarian LLC, an online literary publication showcasing books and movies to inspire travel and home to the famed Uncorked Reading Challenge.

With a BA in English & History from Smith College, an MLIS from USF-Tampa, and a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship in Christine's back pocket, there isn't a bookstore, library, or winery that can hide from her. Christine loves brewery yoga, adopting all of the kitties, and a glass of oaked Chardonnay. Charcuterie is her favorite food group.

CJ | A Well-Read Tart

Monday 11th of November 2019

Hello!! Love the review you gave this book! I'm currently reading it, which is going slowly because I stop every 5 second to scribble down something I want to remember or blog about later, lol. This book is giving me all the feels. As a fellow "art monster" pursuing a writing career and former musician. everything about AND THEN WE GREW UP is speaking to me. :-) I can't wait to review Rachel's book on my blog, though I think my review is going to end up being like 5,429 pages long, lol. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one!!


Monday 11th of November 2019

Hey there! Thank you so much for putting Rachel and And Then We Grew Up on my radar. I am so glad that you are enjoying the book.

The art monster concept definitely gave me all of the feels as well. I am like a baby blog art monster, and I am totally living the stereotypical, impoverished but artsy AF dream in my head lol. I cannot wait to see your review.

Lauren Elena

Sunday 27th of October 2019

I could go on and on about this subject but I don't think I can. I'd write a whole novel in your comments section and then go, "Hey, Christine! Can I copy and paste my comment off your blog post to send to literary agents? Please?" ;) I was very passionate about acting in my teen and into my young adult years, but then I started losing my passion in my young adult years and then gave it up at 26 or 27. However, a few years ago for the first time in like 10 years, I took an improv class and two acting classes. It was fun. I might take a class again one of these days. We shall see! Sounds like a book that gets you thinking! I'm so glad I've found blogging to get my creative juices flowing again. :)


Saturday 2nd of November 2019

That's so much fun! I had no idea that you were into acting and improv. I would love love love to see this on IG Stories...just sayin'. We had acting classes in college that I wish I tried--just to step outside of my normal comfort zone.

I dream of writing and publishing a novel one day. We will definitely get there. I bet most everyone loses their creativity at some point in their life and needs to find it or rekindle it again.

Macey @ Brine & Books

Thursday 24th of October 2019

It's a bit scary to think about my future career (which is my dream career) and then my dream-dream career (what I would love to do but probably won't be able to accomplish--at least for awhile). I don't know that there's much for me to look back on in my short, almost 20 years of life, but I do feel very fortunate that I've never really doubted what I want to do, and my path to that place has always come fairly naturally. Not everyone is as lucky, so this book probably provokes some great introspection! Balancing the realistic with the dream world can be tough, but once you find your happy place--that allows you to live both, fairly contentedly--not much can sway you. Sounds like a thought-provoking read!


Thursday 24th of October 2019

The future is so hard to see sometimes because you really don't know what is out there until you get out there. Some opportunities that you never thought of just suddenly open up in front of you.

It is nice to know where you are going and have a strong pathway there. My husband always knew that he wanted to be a pilot. He has pursued that career his entire life, and he loves it. He makes a living from it, and it's his passion that he has never wavered from.

Kathy | Tasty Itinerary

Thursday 24th of October 2019

Oh, I need to get the audiobook version. I feel like she's speaking to me already. I ask myself all the time, where would I be if I had not been pushed into the 9-5 world by the adults in my life? I was always taking pictures all my life, what would have happened if I had nurtured that need to document it all? What if I stopped listening to everyone telling me I need an office job with benefits? Seriously, so many questions.

Of course, I honestly don't expect any book will help answer any of this.

Btw, I am 38 yrs old and I still don't really know what I want to be when I grow up.


Thursday 24th of October 2019

I could see And Then We Grew Up more as a podcast. The book and each 'interview' definitely reads that way. I picture Cathy Heller reading this one out loud lol!

Growing up, I really wished that we didn't write about what we wanted to be 'when we grow up' in freaking 3rd grade. I get having goals and dreams is cool and all, but why not teach kids how and who to be first?! Foster and grow their interest and qualities vs telling them that they have to have some career that needs to be determined at every bend. I only knew the 9-5 realm. Creativity was a hobby. I even remember writing about how I wanted to be a marine biologist just because I HAD NO IDEA what to talk about. SPOILER ALERT: I hate the water, and I cannot stand the thought of an injured animal.

This is the first time, ever, in my life that I decided to leave the 9-5 world of I'm a 'teacher' or a 'manager' or a 'librarian' behind. Those titles are not my identity, which is mostly the point of this book. Sorta.

The book won't really answer any of that--but at least you will be able to relate lol!


Thursday 24th of October 2019

Sounds awesome. And I love your wording-truth bombs. Will definitely check this one out. Great post!


Thursday 24th of October 2019

Thanks! I think we all need some truth bombs sometimes.