Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Start Without Me

I make no secret about how much I dislike Thanksgiving. I just really don't like it and I dread it every year. Not because I've had some terrible Thanksgiving experience but mostly because I've never had a GREAT one. My family doesn't really have traditions other than we get together, mom and I cook (and hate it), and by the time food is on the table I'm over it. Hurry up and eat and get the hell out, people. I look forward to Christmas so I am that person who is shopping Thanksgiving Day. So clearly, I picked this book because these characters also aren't super excited about Thanksgiving. We're like literary soulmates.

The author of the critically acclaimed The Book of Jonah explores questions of love and choice, disappointment and hope in the lives of two strangers who meet by chance in this mesmerizing tale that unfolds over one Thanksgiving day

Adam is a former musician and recovering alcoholic who is home for Thanksgiving for the first time in many years. Surrounded by his parents and siblings, nieces and nephews—all who have seen him at his worst—he can’t shake the feeling that no matter how hard he tries, he’ll always be the one who can’t get it right.

Marissa is a flight attendant whose marriage is strained by simmering tensions over race, class and ambition. Heading to her in-laws for their picture-perfect holiday family dinner, her anxiety is intensified by the knowledge she is pregnant from an impulsive one-night-stand.

In an airport restaurant on Thanksgiving morning, Adam and Marissa meet. Over the course of this day fraught with emotion and expectation, these two strangers will form an unlikely bond as they reckon with their family ties, their pasts, and the choices that will determine their way forward.

Joshua Max Feldman focuses his knowing eye on one of the last bastions of classical American idealism, the Thanksgiving family gathering, as he explores our struggles to know—and to be—our best selves. Hilarious and heartrending, Start Without Me is a thoughtful and entertaining page-turner that will leave its indelible mark on your heart.

We have a lot of balls in the air with this book- we have Adam, not even a year into sobriety from alcoholism, who is rebuilding his life (kind of) after the end of his relationship with Johanna and break up of the band he was in. He's a mess. He kind of reminds me of James Frey in A Million Little Pieces, he has the potential to be a lot of things but it's himself that prevents it. He has a good family who are all fully over his crap and he's almost angry about it, like they should want to deal with more of his crap. Or maybe he doesn't fully understand what his alcoholism did to everyone, he admittedly didn't want to listen to their letters at intervention so agreed to rehab... so he's kind of a jerk but I have a feeling he'd end up being a really great future husband and dad. Which seems odd to say, right?

Then we have Marissa, who is still married to her husband though they are having some serious relationship issues. She's a flight attendant and on her travels she runs into her high school boyfriend, they have sex, and uh-oh- she's pregnant! She hasn't told her husband and doesn't really want to face his family on Thanksgiving so she's stalling.

Adam and Marissa meet, it really is almost like fate because of how they keep coming together but you're rooting for them to salvage the holiday. Adam gets to meet Marissa's inlaws, Marissa reconnects with her mother (who is also a drunk and not a great mom, lets be honest), and Adam somehow ends up with his family. It's a really FULL DAY. We find out the deal with Marissa's inlaws, what happened to Johanna, and everyone connects with their family.

I finished this book rather quickly and overall, I liked it. I'm giving it 3/5 stars only because there were a few loose ends with me. I know nobody is going to solve all the problems in a day but Marissa's story line feels really not finished. I really want to know what Marissa does, what happens with the baby, does she and Adam keep in touch, all kinds of things. It took me a few days to think about it and I get that that was the point- leave us hanging a bit, but damn if I'm not one of those people who like everything neat and tidy at the end of a story. I don't do well not knowing. My imagination isn't satisfying enough, I suppose. It was a pretty good book though and if you find yourself traveling for Thanksgiving, stick this in your bag. You'll likely need it. Start Without Me is available on the HarperCollilns website and also Amazon.

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.