"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Review and quotes: FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE

Title: Fleishamn Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Book Beginnings quote:
Toby Fleishman awoke one morning inside the city he'd lived all his adult life and which was suddenly somehow crawling with women who wanted him.
Friday56 quote:
That night, Toby took the children to synagogue like he'd done every Friday night before the separation. The problem with Rachel taking any Friday nights was she never took them to synagogue, and so it began to creep into their heads that maybe Friday night services, dinner, and family time were optional, a whim of Toby's that was subject to debate.
Summary and Review: At the end of each calendar year many publications create a list of the best books of that year. Last year FLEISHMAN IS IN TROUBLE by Taffy Brodesser-Akner tied at 30 with NICKEL BOYS by Colson Whitehead as the two books on the most best-of-2019 lists. (See the lists here.) I had really high hope for Fleishman Is In Trouble since I loved Nickel Boys and they had the same number of high recommendations.

The book's description, which apparently I didn't scrutinize too closely, said that Toby Fleishman has recently separated from his wife of thirteen years. He is a 41-year-old doctor, a dedicated father, and a practicing Jew. His wife, Rachel, is a talent agent who works long hours and makes lots of money but has little time or patience for family life. Their marriage should have ended long before it did. Then one day she disappears after dropping off the children and doesn't respond to his texts or phone calls. No one knows where she is. Weeks pass. During this time Toby starts to examine his own life. Maybe he isn't the person he thinks he is, either. This all sounds good/interesting/compelling.

Unfortunately I did not like the book one bit and part of the reason is found in the description that I missed: "Toby Fleishman is suddenly, somehow--and at age forty-one, short as ever--surrounded by women who want him: women who are self-actualized, women who are smart and interesting, women who don't mind his height, women who are eager to take him for a test drive with just the swipe of an app. Toby doesn't mind being used in this way; it's a welcome change from the thirteen years he spent as a married man, the thirteen years of emotional neglect and contempt he's just endured." Read the words 'test drive' as sex, lots of sex. Yuck. There was so many women and such horrible and belittling text messages and photos I was disgusted. I wanted to close my eyes and chant la-la-la so I wouldn't have to hear the words spoken on the audiobook. Disgusting. If I had even bothered to read the first line, I would have had a clue, huh?

I didn't like any of the characters in Fleishman Is In Trouble. (Well with one exception:  Solly, the nine-year-old son.) I didn't like Toby, Rachel, their daughter, Hannah. I didn't like any of Toby's friends. I didn't like any of the doctors or Rachel's co-workers, and I especially didn't like any of the rich people in the story. Gag. Why would anyone want to have money so they could hang out with rich snobs like that? And why would anyone want to raise their children to be the same way. Awful. I suppose that was one of the points the book was making---one cannot buy happiness.

Oddly the narrator of the book was not Toby or Rachel but a female friend of Toby's from their college days, Elizabeth. She came in and out of the story, sometimes fulfilling the role of a '3rd-person-omniscient narrator' and sometimes as a character in the story. Not until the end of the book do we learn what qualifies her to tell the story in the first place. That chapter, by the way, is the only one I liked. In it this narrator friend talks about the challenges for women in competitive jobs and how they are judged much harsher then men. She made some really good points, but I didn't need to read a whole awful book for one good chapter.

So, you ask, why did I even bother to finish a book I clearly didn't like? Good question. I keep asking myself the same question, too.  I kept reading (listening) thinking it would improve. It had to, right? Well, it didn't. And I DO NOT recommend that you read it. You've been warned!

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
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e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.

-Anne




19 comments:

  1. This is probably the most negative review I've ever read by you. I won't read it! I have too many other good books!

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    1. It really rubbed me the wrong way. Why was it on the top of the pile for best books of 2019?

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  2. You have me interested in more, I'd like to learn more about Toby. :-) I added you to the linky. Happy Easter weekend!

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  3. Ha-ha, I have found myself in this very pickle a few times! Recently, I got 2/3 of the way through a book that I thought I would like but didn't before DNFing it. Time we never get back!

    Thanks for sharing, and here's mine: ”SOMETHING SHE’S NOT TELLING US”

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  4. Upon reading the first line before your review I thought that it was a bit weird. Your review only confirmed it. I'm going to take your advice and not read it!

    Konna @ The Reading Armchair

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  5. So, the first line does indeed set the tone for the entire book. Thank you for letting us know.

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  6. Hopefully your next read is better. Have a great weekend!

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  7. The first section of the novel is pretty spoof-filled & irreverent -- and that's how I took it. I had to laugh at ole Toby. Some parts are quite funny .... and then it gets more serious or deeper near the end.

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    1. I'm glad someone liked it more than me. Everyone was so awful it was hard to see the humor.

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  8. Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it. I hope your next read is a better fit for you.

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  9. Aww sorry to hear this one was disappointing!

    Ronnie @ Paradise Found

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  10. Yeah, that's a key bit of summary to miss. This doesn't sound like a good book for me at all. :-)

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  11. Thanks for the warning about the book. Hopefully your next read will be a good one! Stay safe! :)

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  12. I agree completely about this novel. Very disappointing, so I gave up at about 100 pages. That's always a hard decision to make but sometimes necessary. Yes, why DOD this book get such high marks?

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    1. Glad to know I am not alone in my estimation of it.

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  13. I'm sorry you didn't like it. I would have done the same thing and finish it, but it's a shame it didn't get better.

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  14. Thanks for the warning - I'll be sure to keep away.

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  15. Well, that opening definitely grabs your attention, and it sure made me curious! What a shame this didn't work for you. On the surface, this sounds interesting, but I'm there with you. I'm not really interested in reading about women throwing themselves at a random guy (or vice versa, because I'm a equal opportunity noper, I guess). Thanks for the heads up about this one!

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  16. Ouch! Been there and been hopeful too that bad, bad books could improve and been thoroughly disappointed. With that blurb, it sucks this didn't work out.

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