Sunday, November 15, 2009

Book Review: "The Book of Joe" by Jonathan Tropper

Sometimes it's not that you can't go home again, it's that you shouldn't. Take Joe Goffman, for example. He left his hometown of Bush Falls shortly after high school and then years later wrote a fictionalized account of life there which left his former friends and neighbors feeling a little, well, angry. The book became a bestseller and was adapted into a movie, so the whole world got to see what Joe had to say.

Joe returns to Bush Falls 17 years later after his father has a stroke. Needless to say, he isn't welcomed with open arms by anyone. As he relives his glory days and tries to come to terms with his adult life, he starts to realize why he wrote the book and how he can move on to a new chapter with his friends and loved ones.

When The Book of Joe came out a few years ago, I remember not wanting to read it because I usually shy away from books labeled by critics as "funny," "heartwarming" or "life-affirming," because they're usually not. But after reading—and loving—Jonathan Tropper's newest book, This is Where I Leave You, I decided to read some of his previous novels as well. And I'm glad I did, because honestly, this book is funny, a little heartwarming and even slightly life-affirming. Sure, it's a little predictable, but Tropper's characters are so interesting and intriguing it doesn't matter. And besides, who hasn't wanted to write a book about where they grew up, getting revenge on those who did them wrong? I know it's not just me...

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