Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Start Without Me by Joshua Max Feldman - TLC Book Review

Start without Me  by Joshua Max Feldman

Format? oversized paperback
Source? provided by the publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Why?  family, recovering alcoholic, dysfunction all day long, and a holiday meal had my name all over it :) 

Title?  I think when you're not quite sure of your place in the family gathering, you want the rest of the cast to "start without you"...don't mind me, really no big deal.
Cover?  not really anything special and not a cover that would have caught my eye without the synopsis

What Now?  

I love the idea of reading more family holiday stories, especially those that aren't the same old sappy holiday story told a billion different ways with the same characters.
Golden Lines

It seemed like more than she could handle - but she'd never been a quitter: Her story had reminded her of this, if it accomplished nothing else.  You kept going, you didn't wait for applause or congratulations, you kept on going, forward. (91)

He wanted to run away again, all the way back to San Francisco.  But it was too late, he told himself, and he had to face what he'd done: what he'd done this morning, and what he'd done before that, the long compounding chain of Things He'd Done that stretched back farther than he could or cared to remember. (101-102)

He turned up the volume and watched the mechanical arm lift its head, glide an inch to the left, lower itself to the spinning record.  And next he heard what he considered the most beautiful sound in all of recorded music: the staticy, pregnant murmur as the needle approached the grooves of the first track. (138)

"What do you want me to do?"  Roz sighed.  "Their whole lives they've been at each other's throats.  And who suffers?  I suffer." (161)

She pushed a scrap of turkey into a mound of mashed potato.  "None of it matters, though.  Thirty, forty years tops, the ice caps will be melted, and this whole shitshow will be underwater." (172)

Anyone who believed there was anything romantic about madness, or drinking, or recovery, or love just snapping in two, should've been made to endure that silence.  As he sat in the car waiting for Marissa, he wondered if he'd ever escaped it. (203)

"You're poor white trash by way of Boston. Your mother's a drunk and father got shivved in Walpole while he was doing ten years for bank fraud.  That's all you'll ever be, so you better learn to live with it, Marissa Sofia." (226)

Adam was ashamed to be a drunk, but at least he could recognize himself in that role, through the prism of that shame.  He'd be less lonely when he began drinking, because he'd find himself in the company he knew best: his own drunk self. (250)

"I know you may not believe this, but there are a lot of people counting on you." (260)


Adam and Marissa are two broken souls stuck in a hotel restaurant on Thanksgiving morning. 
 Both have families, but neither family is the most sentimental example of a family a person would want to return to for the holidays.
Adam is a recovering alcoholic after surviving a rock bottom as hard and deep as a person can fall with a past that may be too hard to shake.  Marissa's future is shakier than her past, and she doesn't know what her next step will be.  A day with Adam, the ghost from his past, and both of their families may be just the push to either stabilize them or knock them over the edge.

What I Liked

Adam - I could walk in his shoes somewhat.  He's made a mess of his life and is on the mend...but he also realizes that his life won't ever be the same.  That day is past and relationships have changed.  

The frank discussion of the coping strategies that Adam learned at Stone Manor...built into the story instead of preached.

Marissa - she's a survivor like Adam, but not like Adam...they are survivors in their own light.  The alcohol stories do bring their lights together, and that key factor inevitably makes their happenstance meeting become quite meaningful after all.

Adam's music...and his broken heart.

Laila - I have no idea why I liked this character...she was a member of Robbie's family but she didn't seem to give a crap.  Maybe too smart for her own good but rebelling at rebelling...just to get back at her parents but not to the extent that she would be unsuccessful or lose the money she'll girl.

the mother daughter aspect of the story - these relationships are always so complicated...while the daughter doesn't want to become the mother and does everything she can to escape, it's the sacrifices of the mother and possibly the mistakes of the mother that make the daughter able to escape in the long run...see what I mean...complicated as crap.  And without her experiences with her mother, Marissa couldn't have been the right person in the right place for Adam.

the very real depiction of living in recovery and sobriety - it's not always pretty, and it's a daily struggle...and sometimes you'd just rather let go than fight it anymore.  Feldman really wrote this well I thought.  

What I Didn't Like

Robbie - what a dislikable character - I did not/could not figure out Marissa's attraction to him or his family.

Roz - Robbie's mother...yuck!  a stereotypical egotistical mother-in-law with too much money and too much time on her hands.

Overall Recommendation

A great story for anyone who enjoys the holiday dinner narrative...a little on the edgy side.

The Author - Joshua Max Feldman


Other Stops on the Tour

Tuesday, October 17th: 5 Minutes For Books

Wednesday, October 18th: Peppermint PhD

Thursday, October 19thLife By Kristen

Friday, October 20thThe Desert Bibliophile

Monday, October 23rdBookNAround

Tuesday, October 24thBooks and Bindings

Wednesday, October 25thSara the Introvert

Thursday, October 26thNo More Grumpy Bookseller

Friday, October 27thLiterary Quicksand

Monday, October 30thTina Says…

Tuesday, October 31stStephTheBookworm

Wednesday, November 1stStranded in Chaos

Thursday, November 2ndJathan & Heather

Friday, November 3rdML’s Red House Reviews

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