The Adults by Caroline Hulse

The Adults is a quirky and humorous novel about the complications of life and the reality of trying to act like grown ups. Matt and Claire are split up, but they want their daughter Scarlett to have a good family Christmas. This means that somehow they end up at a holiday camp over the festive period with their new partners in tow, and Scarlett’s imaginary rabbit friend Posey coming along too. Everyone might think it’s a weird set up, but they’re all going to be adults about it, or so they think until it ends up with a phone call to the police.

The novel opens with the phone call and then tells the story of the characters getting there and having their holiday together intercut with witness statements, as the truth of the incident and what happened beforehand slowly comes out. The narrative isn’t hugely surprising, though it is nice that this isn’t just an ‘exes get back together’ type story. Instead, it is funny and slightly dark, with a lot of the comedy coming from the ridiculous awkwardness of the situation and the inclusion of Scarlett’s imaginary giant rabbit, as a group of people with a lot of differences and complicated personal ties try to get along amidst fights and lies. At times it can feel a bit slow, but it picks up the pace later on once the groundwork is laid down.

The Adults is a light read that can be sweet and also embarrassing, showing how bizarre life can be when some well-meaning adults make stupid choices to try and make a child happy over Christmas. It is the kind of book that would make a good indie comedy film adaptation, with a slightly surreal imaginary friend and a kind of ‘look how awful someone else’s Christmas could be’ vibe.