Saturday, May 30, 2015

Book Review: "Thank You, Goodnight" by Andy Abramowitz

Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

When you get to a certain age (and that age differs from person to person), many people find themselves thinking about the path their lives have taken, and wondering what might have been, if things might have gone differently. I'd imagine those thoughts can be more intense for people who once had a taste of fame, as they look back on their time in the spotlight and wish it had ended differently.

Thirty-eight-year-old Teddy Tremble is an attorney, but that hasn't always been his chosen vocation. For a few magical years, he was the lead singer of Tremble, a band that had one fairly well-known hit, won an Oscar, and even had their music appear in movies. Tremble was a fairly talented group of musicians, but their second album wasn't a critical or commercial success and the decision (Teddy's) to headline their own tour instead of opening for a more popular group was more hubris than anything else.

Then their label dropped them, the spotlight faded, his marriage broke up, and his fellow band members got on with their lives. A law career isn't quite how he dreamed his life would unfold, but it passes the time and pays the bills, and his relationship with Sara, an interior designer who has seen more than her share of anguish, is satisfying, although he's never quite sure where they stand with each other. And then one night while heading on a trip to Ireland to take a deposition, a random message from Tremble's former drummer sends Teddy on a journey that hits him both physically and emotionally, and inspires him to start writing songs again.

But once he writes a few songs with some potential, does he really want to try again? Can he convince his old band to get back together for another try, even though they've built totally different lives, and in some cases, there are issues between them? And is the vastly different musical world ready for the return of a one-hit-wonder band? Can a group of musicians pushing 40 still find a place? And does Teddy really want a second chance after all?

Even though we've seen this type of story before, I thoroughly enjoyed Thank You, Goodnight. It was a fun and compelling read, filled with endearing characters who transcend the typical stereotypes of aging musicians. I was really impressed with Andy Abramowitz' storytelling, especially given that this is his first novel, and you could tell he really cared about his characters. This is also a bit of a tribute to the power of music—how it can make us feel, and how it can bring back memories of certain people, places, and times in our lives.

Give this one a shot. You'll have a lot of fun, and you'll probably want to listen to some music afterward.

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