I was reminded of a recent tv series when I got this book..the basic premise being an author who wrote a potboiler about his hometown and then returns home years later to interact with estranged friends and family. No, it isn't original, but the characters are dimensional and real and the plot line entertaining. Joe, the main character, is flawed and not always such a nice person, but the reader is drawn to him because he embodies a certain humanity we all share. The tone of the book kept me reading for long periods of time and the end was satisfying.
I find myself having a hard time deciding how many stars to give Jonathan Tropper's Book of Joe. On the one hand, the book is beautifully written and well told. The plot moves along at a fast pace and the characters are well-defined, if not a little caricaturist. And yet, throughout the entire novel I couldn't help having the slightest feeling of déjà vu. It was like I had heard it all before. Oh sure, there were the occasional plot twists, and I even found myself wiping away a tear at a certain point near the end. But when I put the book down I couldn't see myself ever wanting to read it again.
The book follows the main character (aptly named Joe, if you hadn't caught that yet), as he returns to the hometown he shamelessly slandered in a best-selling, if not Oprah-worthy, debut novel. His father has suffered a stroke (original, I know), and so the prodigal son returns (again, that nauseous déjà vu is rising up). Everyone in town hates him now, from his brother (who never liked him anyway) to the town sheriff (who uhh, never liked him anyway) to his ex-girlfriend (who...well, you get the idea). What transpires are a series of events that I'm sure you can guess at considering he just returned to a town full of people who ... don't ... like ... him. He now has to come face to face with the destruction he wrought on the small town and the bitter and tawdry souls he left behind.
After mulling it over for far longer than one would think necessary, these are my conclusions as to why The Book of Joe is better left on the shelf:
Tropper tries too hard for shock value too much of the time. Case in point, the very first sentence of the book: "Just a few scant months after my mother's suicide, I walked into the garage, looking for my baseball glove, and discovered Cindy Posner on her knees, animatedly performing fellatio on my older brother, Brad." I understand all too well the need for a poignant and catching opening sentence, but any opening line containing the word fellatio just comes across as overkill.
The characters experience no growth. I like to see the characters I've invested my reading time in to learn and grow and mature and become thriving healthy beings. Or at least more interesting beings by book's end. I didn't see this happening. Furthermore, the characters were so.....soap opera-ish. Everyone was either taking their clothes off or throwing punches or doing drugs or gay. Or all of the above. It all got a little tedious and overbearing.
So, in conclusion, if you do read this book, I think you'll find it interesting and entertaining and even enjoyable, even if it has all been done before. Just don't go reading it expecting it to alter your life or change your outlook on the world. Unless déjà vu is life altering for you, then yeah, expect great things.
This is a fantastic book. The main character is an author who got his revenge on his hometown through a thinly-disguised fictional best-seller. When his father falls ill, he has to return home to face the music with some and try to reconnect with others. The characters are just amazing. This is one of those books that leaves you wanting just one more chapter; I didn't want it to end.
This is my second Jonathan Tropper novel and it has sealed me as a definite fan. I love his honest and unapologetic style. His novels are real--but surprising--and oh so witty. I laugh, I cry, my mouth drops open in shock. From the beginning, the reader feels like they are careening down from the top hill of a roller coaster, the story gathering momentum as they traverse the twists and turns, coming to a stop only after the last line of the novel. The Book of Joe is a grown-up book for those of us who come from small towns with all those small town secrets.
"Joe Goffman has just learned that his estranged father is in a coma. Now the thirty-four-year-old author must return to the town and family he turned his back on seventeen years ago. So with nearly two decades of emotional baggage packed into the trunk of his shiny new Mercedes, Bush Falls's most notorious prodigal son is coming home." "Within hours of his arrival, before he can begin making amends to his family or look up his high school sweetheart, Joe's return ignites a maelstrom of reaction. Senior citizens throw milk shakes in his face, the book club members hurl their copies of his novel at his house, and an ex-classmate turned felon threatens him with bodily harm. And that's just his first day back." But while Bush Falls may be less than thrilled to see Joe, it's becoming clear that Joe needed to see Bush Falls. As he walks the familiar streets of is hometown, he revisits the terrible events of his senior year - 1986 - a year of passion, betrayal, and catastrophe from which he's never fully recovered. But after seventeen years of hiding from it, Joe is finally ready to face his past, and with the help of some old friends, he may actually learn something ... if he manages to survive the homecoming.
Although the story line is something I've probably read a million times, as my father always likes to say, it isn't how the story ends, but how they manage to take you there. Going by that statement, this book does not fail to disappoint. Despite serious character flaws in the protagonist, you fall in love with him. There was a great mix of emotions here, and there were laugh-out-loud moments that had me giggling in public. The author has a great writing style and manages to hit certain analogies right on the head. I really enjoyed this book!
Joe Goffman has returned to his small Connecticut hometown because his father is in the hospital in a coma. Joe hasn't been back in 17 years and he isn't exactly welcomed home. You see, he wrote a book that was turned into a movie which was all about his senior year in high school - the summer of 1986. And though Joe insists his book is a work of fiction, there's a lot of truth to the stories and characters that it contains. Small towns are rife with secrets and Joe has gone and spilled the beans to the whole world - with some added embellishments. So it's no surprise that he's returned to a town where angry book club members throw his books at his father's house, he's beat up by some of the basketball players of years past, and his car is systematically vandalized.
And yet, he stays. Joe has spent the past 17+ years trying to forget about where he came from, but in coming home he can't stop thinking about it.
Equal parts funny and sad, it's written in Tropper's style of wry humor and touching descriptions; you can't help but stick with it and watch Joe (finally) grow up.
Labor Day crept in with the stealth of a cat burglar in the dead of night, and when we woke up, summer had been stolen right out from under us. (p.77)
Another great book by J Tropper, i just love his writing, i feel like i get a glimpse into the male mind, his characters really are great, damaged and he speaks about dysfunctional families and relationships in a great way. his humor allows him to discuss tough subjects in a way that makes you feel deeply for the characters. a great read.
This is an interesting book that follows the life of a writer who has been less than kind to his home town. It is filled with witty retorts and also meaningful experiences. It was not the best story I have read as it seemed that it was trying to hard. The comedic parts came easily and natural while the more dramatic parts struggled and felt pushed.
This blended a wry wit and cynic humor well throughout the story keeping the reader chuckling, yet still conveyed the emotions for the tragic parts. It depicted small town life well, even if at times you'd have liked to have shaken the entire town.
Joe a writer, has written a fiction novel based upon his hometown. With his father dying, he has to face all the people he has upset, and that pretty much takes up the entire town. He surprises himself more than his readers when his prodigal return puts him on a new journey of self discovery as well. Going from past to present, this is a book hard to put down.
I loved reading this book. The character development is fantastic and it is very funny. I was very engaged with Joe from the beginning until the end of the book and felt empathy for what he was struggling to adjust to in his life. The author is a very strong writer and keeps the reader fully engaged from beginning to end. Strongly recommend this book to anyone who loves mature writing.
I am torn about this book. It is well written, but at the same time there are some flaws here (that I won't bother boring you with). It was like Chic Lit about and written by a male. A nice premise, and predictable. Enjoyable enough, but I was ready for it to end so I could get on to something with more substance!
I never have read anything by this author before but i really enjoyed this book and am anxious to see what else he has written,It about Joe Goffman who left Bush Falls right after he graduated then wrote a book about the whole town and all there secrets that became a national bestseller and a movie later, now his father has had a heart attack and he must return and the picture isn't pretty. A well written book.
Joe Goffmans existence as a teen living in the small town of Bush Falls isnt exactly ideal but he has one good friend to see him through. Unlike Joe, Wayne is a first rate athlete at their high school, and this offers Joe some safety and slack. At home, however, Joe and dad dont have a good relationship. Dad used to be an athlete at the same high some years back and it seems like he only lives to relieve the glory days with his other son, the athletic one, Brad. Its a bit of a cliché, but Tropper makes it work. Things turn up for Joe as he makes one more friend that summer. Together, he, Wayne and Sammy begin having a great and care-free summer -- until something unjust happens to his friends.
Disgusted by those around him for not doing anything to right the wrongs incurred on his friends, Joe leaves town and doesnt come back until 17 years after (when he is obligated to return due to his dads illness). During his time away from home, Joe has written a scathing fiction based on his hometown and those who live in it. The book becomes a best-seller and is made into a blockbuster film. Having to return to Bush Falls means that Joe will have to confront his demons head on, but so do those who have gotten away with turning their backs on those kids all those years ago. Tropper once again seamlessly eases the reader into the human condition with humor, honesty, and a touch of cheesy 80s John Hughes-like movie backdrops. C'mon, who doesn't like a good 80s John Hughes film?!