Meet The Adults.
Claire and Matt are no longer together but decide that it would be best for their daughter, Scarlett, to have a “normal” family Christmas. They can’t agree on whose idea it was to go to the Happy Forest holiday park, or who said they should bring their new partners. But someone did—and it’s too late to pull the plug. Claire brings her new boyfriend, Patrick (never Pat), a seemingly sensible, eligible from a distance Ironman in Waiting. Matt brings the new love of his life, Alex, funny, smart, and extremely patient. Scarlett, who is seven, brings her imaginary friend Posey. He’s a giant rabbit. Together the five (or six?) of them grit their teeth over Forced Fun Activities, drink a little too much after Scarlett’s bedtime, overshare classified secrets about their pasts . . . and before you know it, their holiday is a powder keg that ends where this novel begins—with a tearful, frightened call to the police.
What happened? They said they’d all be adults about this. . . .
That premise sent shivers down my spine, there is not enough eggnog on the planet that would get me through a holiday with an ex, let alone an ex and their new partner. I was immediately intrigued by how this anxiety inducing group would all get on.
I can totally see this sort of group holiday happening, the concept of what a family is is shifting every day, many children have multiple adults involved in raising them and for all the happy units that make it work, there must be a bunch of folk out there navigating these situations with less than rosy outcomes.
And for the fivesome (sixsome, let’s not forget Posey) that all pile off to Happy Forest for the Christmas holiday, the pressure for everything to go smoothly erupts almost immediately. Any dreams they had of a recreating the final scene of Its a Wonderful Life, soon dissolve into something more akin to a scene from The Royale Family.
Happy Forest is one of those Centre Parcs type holiday places – regimented activities, timetabled to the hilt and created to ensure the most claustrophobic holiday experience is had by all. Hulse really uses this setting to the max – she has placed her characters into a box they cannot get out of, at the most stressful time of the year, all trying to out-adult each other and prove how “ok” they are with the situation.
Throughout the book the narrative is cut with witness interviews that allude to a violent incident, so right from the off you know someone is going to come a cropper in some way to the intense environment, you are left to try and figure out who has most reason to hurt another of the party and as the book goes on, every character’s list of motives get longer and longer.
Hulse has created 4 very distinct and relatable adult characters, all clashing personalities straining to getting along, thin lipped smiles getting tighter and tighter as each combination clang against each other over spa arrangements, dietary requirements and visits to Santa. Scarlett and Posey are a delightful addition, poor wee Scarlett trying to enjoy her Christmas holiday, while her stressed out and paranoid imaginary rabbit pal keeps whispering suspicions about Alex, the newest addition to the unit. He’s heard that she kills animals and is determined to bring her down.
I really enjoyed this book, it was hilarious and touching and the build up to the “incident” really kept me turning the pages. I can see this book being turned into a brilliant festive comedy with Kirsten Wiig in the role of Alex, trying desperately to not make a tit out of herself as she struggles with all the insecurities this holiday throws up for her. There is a scene where Alex finally cracks, and all I could picture was Wiig in Bridesmaids wrestling with that massive engagement cookie!
If you are looking for something to make you cringe, laugh and be grateful for every Christmas you’ve have that wasn’t this Christmas The Adults is for you!
If you would like to read more about this book, please take a look at the posts from my fellow bloggers:
Thanks so much for Orion for sending me this book!