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A journey through the many ways to live an artistic life—from the flashy and famous to the quiet and steady—full of unexpected insights about creativity and contentment, from the author of The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost.

Rachel Friedman was a serious violist as a kid. She quit music in college but never stopped fantasizing about what her life might be like if she had never put down her bow. Years later, a freelance writer in New York, she again finds herself struggling with her fantasy of an artist’s life versus its much more complicated reality. In search of answers, she decides to track down her childhood friends from the prestigious Interlochen Arts Camp-- aspiring actors, artists, dancers, and musicians--to find out how their early creative ambitions have translated into adult careers, relationships, and identities.

Rachel’s conversations with these men and women spark nuanced revelations about creativity and being an artist: that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, that success isn’t always linear, that sometimes it’s okay to quit. And Then We Grew Up is for anyone who has given up a childhood dream and wondered “what-if?”, for those who have aspired to do what they love and had doubts along the way, and for all whose careers fall somewhere between emerging and established. Warm, whip-smart, and insightful, it offers inspiration for finding creative fulfillment wherever we end up in life.


“Friedman ably illustrates many forms creativity can take. Friedman argues that there is both a “productivity-infused creativity” as well as creativity concerned with making everyday choices, such as choosing what one wears, eats, and reads. Anyone who’s ever looked back longingly at an old passion and wondered what might have been will find an empathetic friend in Friedman.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An intriguing…exploration of talent and expectation. Why some people combine ability, luck, grit, and opportunity to break away from the pack while others quit remains unanswerable, but Friedman explores the topic with an appealing mix of trepidation and curiosity. . . . For creative types, Friedman takes the pressure off, redefining success in more ways than reaching the limelight.”
Kirkus Reviews

“In this funny, insightful book, Rachel Friedman asks hard questions and actually comes up with some answers. It’s a must read for everyone who struggles to find a path, fulfill their potential, make a living, and make a life.”
—Emily Gould, author of Friendship

And Then We Grew Up is real as hell and made me feel so seen. Friedman captures so perfectly the endless quest to be a functional happy person in the world who is also, somehow, an art monster. Searching, honest, and generous, this book is a consoling and revealing meditation on making peace with your life.”
—Meaghan O’Connell, author of And Now We Have Everything

“Advice about doing what you love often clashes with reality in midlife. In her thoughtful, generous book—a kind of The Big Chill reckoning for mid-life creatives—Rachel Friedman explores how she and her talented childhood friends reached various states of disillusionment and fulfillment. And Then We Grew Up is the perfect gift for anyone trying to reconcile a desire to write, play music, or make art with more pedestrian desires, like having a family, food on the table, or peace of mind.”
—Ada Calhoun, author of Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give

“Did you grow up pointed in an artistic direction? Did you not but wonder about those who did? Do you have kids of your own with art in their hearts? If yes on any of those, And Then We Grew Up will be of interest on a dozen levels. With candor and humor and perfect intonation, Rachel Friedman gets at one of the biggest questions of all: What happens to us as we get older?”
—Chris Colin, author of What to Talk About and What Really Happened to the Class of ’93

“An insightful, informative, and unexpectedly heartfelt look at all of the ways in which art touches our lives. Friedman reminds us that even if we hang up our dance shoes, neglect our paint set, or box up our musical instruments, creativity never really leaves us.”
—Geraldine DeRuiter, author of All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft

“In And Then We Grew Up, Rachel Friedman is a wise and funny guide through a tangle of hard questions about art, work, and life—about what it means to ‘make it,’ about the many shades of success and failure, and about the search for fulfillment through creativity. Brave enough to examine her own biases, assumptions, and hangups, she provides a way forward for the rest of us who have wrestled with these questions, too. Essential reading for anyone who wonders about the role of creativity and art in their life.”
—Eva Holland, author of Nerve: A Personal Journey Through the Science of Fear




“Friedman’s coming-of-age memoir captures the excitement (and bewilderment) of testing out life’s possibilities on the far side of the world. You’ll laugh and empathize as you get lost with her.”
— Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding