Friday, December 7, 2018

Book Review: Start Without Me by Joshua Max Feldman


Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: Start Without Me
Author: Joshua Max Feldman
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: Paperback; 304
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Source: TLC Book Tours / Publisher
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Genre: Contemporary

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are prepared for an emotional journey that is gorgeously written.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
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.
Pardon me while I compose myself, because this was a really emotional book to read. In fact, because of recent life events, I had to set this aside for a while because it was a little bit too much. Trust me when I say, that's a compliment of the highest order to Joshua Max Feldman. Start Without Me is breathtakingly beautiful. It's a love letter to all the people out there who are holding it together the best they can, while struggling to find their happiness in a world that seems to overlook them. It's all about finding another person, even fleetingly who accepts you and pushes you in equal measures. In other words, Feldman's book is about life. Both the good and the bad.

What first struck me about this story was honestly how upset I kept getting at Adam. It's funny how when a character is flawed, perhaps in a way that hits home, you want to scream at them to be more perfect. We expect our characters to make all the right decisions when, in fact, they should be just as human as we are. Adam was definitely rough around the edges. I loved that you could see the earnest, desperate person underneath all of that rough facade though and, eventually, it endeared me to him. When he met Marissa, and I found myself loving her as well, the story really took off for me. These two had such different lives, such different problems, and yet they managed to band together long enough to prop each other up during a difficult time.

The dialog in this book was spot on. The snippets of life lessons, spouted again and again because they are what you're supposed to say to people who are struggling struck me hard. However it was the deep conversations that were had in this book, the ones that were messy and emotional, that really did me in. I've always been one of those people who feels the need to fix problems for other people, even while I'm piling up my own problems behind a closed door. Watching Marissa and Adam, two lost people who found one another, continuously do this same thing just pummled me. How do you hide from what you're storing behind that door, when the person you're trying to help keeps opening it up? Argh. I'm still thinking about some of the scenes in this book.

Long story short, if you want to read something that is perfect and happy this isn't the book for you. However if you want to read something beautiful, gritty, and full of hope, then Start Without Me should absolutely be on your reading list. It's the kind of read I think a lot of people need around the holidays, and I feel so blessed to have been given the opportunity to read it. It wasn't an easy read, but it was a necessary one.



FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

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