Sunday, May 3, 2015

Everything Changes---A book review

Despite being a voracious reader only rarely do I find a book that thoroughly pulls me into another reality. When I do find one returning to the “real world” is often a painful experience because of the characters I have come to admire and love. That is what just happened a couple of days ago after finishing the Jonathan Tropper novel, Everything Changes.

I first became aware of Tropper's works with the release of the movie This is Where I Leave You starring Tina Fey and Justin Bateman. After seeing the movie I purchased the novel and was totally hooked by the author's clean but detailed writing.

Everything Changes was just as enjoyable, if not more so, with its main character of Zachary King who finds himself doing pretty good in life but questioning whether or not he is on the right path. While a fairly recent tragic event took the life of his best friend it is the discovery of blood in his urine that finally sends him off to question the basis of his life. Matters are not helped with the return of his father, Norm, after a twenty year absence who eats Viagra like M&Ms and has the groin bulging evidence to prove it.

While Zac's job as a “professional middle man” managing the relationship between production factories and business owners sucks from the outset, he is engaged to a beautiful, smart, rich, and well connected lady named Hope. Zack and Hope are in love but more and more he finds himself thinking of the widow of his best friend, Tamara and her little girl. Their relationship is platonic but charged with an unspoken attraction that neither wants to admit.

As the story unfolds Zack concern over his health and the clumsy attempts by his father to reconnect only makes the various situations he is trying to safely navigate worse. Zack and his two brothers are suspicious or Norm's efforts but a few ill timed situations actually provide the father with a way to gain some reluctant acceptance by them.

I will not provide any spoilers but I will say that unlike This is Where I Leave You, Tropper does provide a real and satisfactory conclusion to the novel. No, it is not a total happy ending but at least in my opinion it had the hint of real life.

The only real problem I had with this book was that it ended. With the exception of the blue-blood fiancée Hope and the Viagra-dependent father Norm I came to see the characters as real people I liked. In my opinion the character of Hope was never really developed but I have a predisposition not to like such people in real life. Money alone doesn't disconnect a person from their humanity, I know enough soulless working class individuals to provide a multitude of motivated extras to play eager Nazi storm troopers in a movie, but in my experience wealth does tend to isolate many from the world most have to endure.

As for Norm, what can you say about a guy who abandons his kids in such a callous and degrading way. Many parents have been forced to live away from their children because of difficult circumstances. But through it all they still somehow stay connected to their children. Norm's twenty year absence from his three boys damaged them in ways that I personally found criminal. In other words had my own "Norm" showed up at my door the cops and an ambulance would have been called a short time later.

The one character I "fell in love" with was Tamara. There was just something about the widow of Zack's best friend that I found deeply compelling. The only other character I came close to feeling that strongly about was Shyla Fox from Pat Conroy's novel Beach Music.

For Tamara, the death of her husband made her question whether or not she could be a good parent for her toddler daughter. Some might suspect that Zack's continued interest in Tamara after the death of his best friend might be just an attempt to play the knight in shining armor. It isn't, there are enough hints to suggest that their ties go far deeper than just two people desperately clinging to each other after a tragic event.

From my review you might be able to guess that Everything Changes is written from a guy's point of view. Some might not like that, especially since it causes a few innocent characters to come up short in the end. All I can say is that I highly recommend this book. As for me, I'll be reading the rest of Tropper's published works as fast as Amazon can deliver them.


The Bug said...

Well, since I loved Beach Music, I decided that I'll probably like this book too. I put the audio book on hold at the library - I'll let you know what I think (assuming I can remember that you're the one who recommended it to me - that's asking a lot of my brain these days!).

BTW - if you ever want to revisit Beach Music, listen to the version read by Peter MacNicol narration (still available from my library on CD). He's a master.

Pixel Peeper said...

This sounds interesting. I've read a few books that pulled me in so hard that I was downright depressed when they ended.

I'll have to put this one on my list.

Beach Bum said...

The Bug: It has been a while but one weekend while the family and I were at my in-laws I saw a copy of Beach Music in my mom-in-law's den. Wasn't really into Pat Conroy at the time but with nothing to do I started reading and was quickly engulfed by the novel. About six months later I had exhausted Conroy's published works.

I ended up taking Beach Music home with me and when my mom-in-law asked for it back I told her a flat out lie that it had disappeared. That is one book I will never give up.

Pixel: My biggest worry for some is that Tropper's book are written from a guy's point of view. In fact in Everything Changes after a funny but disastrous engagement party where Zack and Tamara almost have sex in his future dad-in-law's study and are discovered by him there is a chapter where Hope would have taken him back after that event. The character of Hope was clearly a decent and loving person but didn't get the happy ending.

Marja said...

Thanks Beach Sounds like the kind of book I would like to read. I love real life drama stories, I will check if there is a kindle version

Cirze said...

Thanks, friend.

I loved that movie and will check out this new book.

Again, thanks!