The relationship between charismatic male college professors and naive young coeds can be freighted from the get-go. Take an impressionable young woman at an age in which she is exploring her own identity and goals, cast her into the orbit of a man decades older possessing not only substantial knowledge and the ability to inspire but significant power, then throw in some sexual attraction. Bam! You have the makings of a relationship that is fraught with imbalance.
Such is the setup for many a popular story line in books, movies, television. And in the hands of a lesser writer, Jessica Lott’s literary debut could have become clichéd chick lit. But Lott focuses less on the beginnings of the relationship than on its aftermath, years later, and “The Rest of Us” proves to be a compelling, resonant, richly nuanced, and sometimes heartbreaking portrait of cross-generational love and the meaning of art.