Tag Archives: Alcoholism

Review: Start Without Me

Start Without Me

Start Without Me
By Joshua Max Feldman
William Morrow & Company, 9780062668721, October 2017, 288pp.

The Short of It:

What happens when a recovering alcoholic returns home for Thanksgiving, only to abandon his family because he just can’t imagine being with them?

The Rest of It:

Adam is home for Thanksgiving and overwhelmed by his family. He’s a recovering alcoholic and being home is just too much for him to deal with.

Marissa is a flight attendant and pregnant with another man’s baby. Her husband, who senses that their relationship is strained, has no idea what he’s in for when she shows up for the Thanksgiving meal.

Marissa and Adam are strangers but when they meet at a restaurant, they lean on one another for support as they figure out this next step in their lives.

I love stories centered around the Thanksgiving meal. There is always so much tension to these gatherings, relatives you haven’t seen in forever, cousins that drive you absolutely mad, mothers who over-fuss about everything. DRAMA. Start Without Me is full of drama but not really AT the dinner table. It takes place all over as Adam abandons his family to take a breather from reality.

It took some time for me to get into this story but by the final pages, I was pretty into it and wanted to see how things would turn out for Marissa and Adam. The cover sort of makes it  look like it could be a funny story but it’s not really funny. It’s not depressing but definitely not funny so I just wanted to put that out there.

Have you read this author before?

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Under the Influence

Under the Influence

Under the Influence
By Joyce Maynard
William Morrow & Company, Hardcover, 9780062257642, February 23, 2016, 336pp.

The Short of It:

A complex look at friendship and how much you are willing to overlook when happiness is at risk.

The Rest of It:

Divorced and saddened by her current situation, Helen’s decision to drive while under the influence causes her to lose custody of her young son, Ollie.  Distraught, she joins Alcoholics Anonymous as an attempt to get her life back on track realizing that she has a long road ahead of her.

Desperate to make a little money, Helen accepts a job serving appetizers at an art gallery party. The party is filled with rich, well-to-do types so it surprises Helen when one of the guests talks to her about art. Ava Havilland is beautiful, well-dressed and in a wheelchair and yet she exudes the type of confidence that Helen lacks. Ava’s husband, Swift is this larger-than-life personality. Together, the two are a force to be reckoned with. Needless to say, Helen is in awe of them and in no time, Ava has taken Helen under her wing by offering her gifts, clothing, inviting her to dinner and even hiring her as a photographer to work on a special project back at the house.

Let me tell you, this story got my blood pressure up in so many ways! There is an element of danger that you simply can’t ignore. Helen is so vulnerable. She’s just lost custody of her son and has trouble making ends meet and in walks this perfect couple and they are more than willing to offer their assistance, but why? There is literally tension on every page and I just loved it.

Surprisingly, Helen is not a likable character. She’s manipulative. She has a lot of faults and doesn’t always make the right choices but at the same time, I could relate to her situation and understand what this couple meant to her even though every piece of me wanted to scream at her and tell her to take her blinders off.

The entire time I was reading, I felt as if I knew what was going to happen but the story took a different turn and although I was glad to be surprised, I found it to be a little convenient and not that realistic.

That said, the ending didn’t affect my love for the book at all because that tension I mentioned is what kept me reading and Maynard digs deep when it comes to alcoholic tendencies and how tempting that one glass of wine can be. Under the Influence would make a great book club pick because there is plenty of good stuff to discuss. This was my third time reading Maynard’s work and I’ve enjoyed reading all of her books. I highly recommend them.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.