Well the book jacket calls this funny, and even though I did not find it funny, I thought it was unique and complex and hopeful, surprising and beautifully constructed and even profound. Reading this kind of book is why I’m in book groups; I would not have picked it up otherwise, based on the title (because I deal with plenty of anxious people professionally), even though I loved this other title by the same author. Anyway, I’m glad I read this fresh, unusually perceptive, tightly woven read. I give it five stars.
First, the writing is fabulous and entirely modern in the best way; his characterization skills are excellently employed here, and the plot really builds. Secondly, it deals with suicide in a way that encourages living without being either macabre or moralistic. Thirdly, even though people are portrayed here as idiotic, you find compassion for all of them. Fourthly, it is masterful how each piece of so many seemingly random fragments all serve a purpose in the end. This book examines the foibles of the human condition and handily deals with the impact we all have on each other.
Here are some examples of the wisdom in this novel that rings true: more than anything else, everyone makes mistakes. Parents feel they are remembered more for their mistakes than all the things they’ve done right. You’ll never feel more important than when you are holding your three year old’s hand on the way to preschool. God doesn’t protect people from knives, which is why God gave us each other. Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. All we can do is save the ones we can. Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. Sometimes listening to loud music helps, but opening yourself up to love always does.
This is a story about a bank robbery, a hostage drama, a suicide, a police who-done-it, and ultimately is a convoluted story about love that bounces all over the place, twisting and turning, until it all falls into place, with a wholly buttoned up and upbeat ending. I highly recommend it for something very different that will stay with you long afterwards, in a good way.