By Matthew Norman
Scheduled Release Date: August, 2011
Publisher: Harper Perennial (an imprint of Harper Collins)
Genre: Adult Fiction
Tom Violet lives in the shadow of a man he wishes he could be, his father. He works at a job he hates, has a great relationship with a girl he shouldn't be with, and a marriage that, frankly, sucks. Add a dog with anxiety, a cute daughter who sees the world as it is, a corporate goon for an arch nemesis, a few other quirky characters, and you have an entertaining, coming of age novel about a 30-something year old husband/son/father/writer trying to figure out who he is.
I have to say that while the first half of the book was interesting and funny enough, it hovered around a three star rating for me. It starts out as aimless as Tom himself. The first scene is a rather awkward sexual encounter with his wife. Tom's been struggling with erectile dysfunction and the hilarity with that ensues over the next few chapters. He is also the son of an award winning author, and, as an aspiring writer himself, Tom's just finished a "secret" novel that's tucked away in his drawer. The only problem is that his father arrives in a drunken stupor in the middle of the night to tell his son that he's just won the Pulitzer Prize.
The author is able to do some great things with character development and perspective. The reader knows they don't have an entirely, reliable narrator, and that works splendidly for how the author wants the reader to see Tom. I think that's why I was not as enthusiastic about the book in the beginning. Here I am, a 20-something, old married woman, and my life and Tom's are just so... different. But then Tom does something drastic half-way through the book to make a stand for himself, and I really connected with that. Tom also starts to make some difficult decisions about who he is, and who he wants to be. This is why I would describe the book as coming of age for the nearly middle-aged. I could also easily imagine this as a film with a style along the lines of "Little Miss Sunshine."
It was a great read: funny, believable, and with a lot of heart.
Come, we shall have some fun now!