The Celebrants by Steven Rowley
Publication: May 30, 2023 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
from Goodreads: A Big Chill for our
times, celebrating decades-long friendships and promises—especially to
ourselves—by the bestselling and beloved author of The Guncle.
It’s been a minute—or five years—since Jordan Vargas last saw his college friends, and twenty-eight years since their graduation when their adult lives officially began. Now Jordan, Jordy, Naomi, Craig, and Marielle find themselves at the brink of a new decade, with all the responsibilities of adulthood, yet no closer to having their lives figured out. Though not for a lack of trying. Over the years they’ve reunited in Big Sur to honor a decades-old pact to throw each other living “funerals,” celebrations to remind themselves that life is worth living—that their lives mean something, to one another if not to themselves.
But this reunion is different. They’re not gathered as they were to bolster Marielle as her marriage crumbled, to lift Naomi after her parents died, or to intervene when Craig pleaded guilty to art fraud. This time, Jordan is sitting on a secret that will upend their pact.
A deeply honest tribute to the growing pains of selfhood and the people who keep us going, coupled with Steven Rowley’s signature humor and heart, The Celebrants is a moving tale about the false invincibility of youth and the beautiful ways in which friendship helps us celebrate our lives, even amid the deepest challenges of living.
My Thoughts: Funerals are for the living, so why not celebrate your life when you are living? That is exactly the idea for these friends after losing a close friend in college. Each person in the pact can call, no questions asked, just show up, and have their funeral thrown for them while they are alive.
I was not sure how this would play out, would it be incredibly sad, would it be corny? I believe it played out perfectly. Each person has their funeral, their story is told in their own chapter. Their friends celebrate them, challenge them to keep living, and show them how much they are loved. I really liked that no one took making the call for their funeral lightly. The calls only came during times of need and ended up changing their lives for the better.
The Celebrants is a unique look at living life, true friends, and celebrating living.
Thank you Penguin for a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Add to your MUST-READ list on Goodreads
Meet Steven Rowley (taken from his website): Steven Rowley is the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus, a Washington Post Notable Book of 2016, The Editor, named by NPR and Esquire Magazine as one of the Best Books of 2019, and The Guncle, a Goodreads Choice Awards finalist for 2021 Novel of the Year and finalist for The Thurber Prize in American Humor. His fiction has been published in twenty languages.
Lily and the Octopus is in development as a feature film at Amazon Studios. The Editor was optioned by Twentieth Century for producer Greg Berlanti. Feature film rights for The Guncle have been picked up by Lionsgate. Rowley has worked as a freelance writer, newspaper columnist and screenwriter. Originally from Portland, Maine, he is a graduate of Emerson College and currently resides in Palm Springs with his husband, the writer Byron Lane.