Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Friday, 8 March 2013

One Last Thing Before I Go - Jonathan Tropper - Blog Tour Competition!

Today I am delighted to be a part of the Blog Tour for One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper!

This is my life, Silver thinks to himself, and, as always, tries like hell not to panic.’

Drew Silver, known throughout simply as Silver, is a fourty-four year old divorced man who lives alone in an apartment in a building called the Versailles, where lots of other divorced or separated men also make their home. His ex-wife Denise is due to remarry very soon and he has hardly any relationship with his daughter Casey. He enjoyed brief, big success and fame as a drummer with his band the Bent Daisies, who scored one major hit, but this fame dwindled fast. Now Silver earns his crust playing at weddings at bar mitzvahs and the like. His main companionship comes from Jack and Oliver, two of the other men whose relationships have failed and who live in the same building for the moment. Together the three of them idle the hours away by the pool, looking at women, partying, not really moving forward with their lives.

Then the sudden discovery that he has a serious health issue, alongside a visit from his daughter with a revelation of her own, causes reassessment of everything and everyone. Silver spends a lot of time alone and thinking about what has gone before, what is happening now and whether he can change things. He knows he doesn’t want to carry on living the same way he has been for the past seven years, seemingly being a blight rather than a joy in the lives of those he loves; ‘He thinks about the fact that the lives of everyone close to him seem to improve dramatically once they leave him behind.’ He decides on the things he wants to do, but the question is, can he manage to do them, or has he had his chance?

There’s no miraculous solution for him – he knows he has squandered months and years, but now he at least has the realization that he has a beautiful daughter who is now a young woman and who needs him, and he needs her, she is the best thing in his life.

This story is about love, sex, parenthood, separation and growing older, and it is full of humour, sadness, belief, hope, loneliness, self-awareness and realization. I enjoyed reading it, and I liked the way the author conveyed the intense sadness and sense of waste that Silver felt about the mistakes in his life. I liked the portrayal of the tentative renewed relationship between father and daughter, with Silver acknowledging to himself that perhaps despite his efforts, Casey has done really well, and Casey always aware of her father’s shortcomings, although always with an element of tenderness. At one stage, Casey tells Silver, ‘you have me to protect you. Just try not to say anything stupid.’ To which he replies, ‘Have you met me?’ This little exchange sums up Silver’s low opinion of himself, but is imbued with humour too, and much of the novel is written in the same style. Jonathan Tropper writes fitting dialogue that is peppered with truths, honest observations and humour.

I can’t say I liked Silver throughout, but there were times when I certainly warmed to him, when I wished for better times for him ahead, and hoped that he would be there for his daughter now. He is a flawed and believable lead character. I wasn’t sure what to expect in reading the details of a middle-aged man’s life and looking at things from his perspective, with male friendships, a lot of observations about women. In fact this novel has made me realize that I’ve probably read very few books that have such a lead character, but this is one of the beauties of fiction; we can be transported and dropped in any situation, with any character, no matter how ostensibly unfamiliar from our own life, and share in the author’s imagination and their depictions of this different person and their world, and thereby try something different. I would definitely read other books by this author.

Competition! - Win a set of all of Jonathan's UK titles!

Thanks to the publisher I have a wonderful giveaway to offer to readers of my blog. You can win a set of all of Jonathan’s UK titles in paperback - One Last Thing Before I GoHow To Talk to a Widower, This Is Where I Leave You and Everything Changes

To enter, please leave a comment below. Within the comment, I'd love to know the title of your favourite book about dysfunctional families, if you have one.

For an extra entry, follow @linshealy on twitter and leave your twitter @ name in the comments below.

For another extra entry, follow this blog by Google Friend Connect by clicking on the 'Join this Site' button in the right-hand column of this blog.

Please include in your comment a way of contacting you if you are not a follower here/on twitter/another blogger who I can find by clicking on your name.

The competition closes on Friday 15th March 2013 and is open to entrants based in the UK and Europe.

About the author

Jonathan Tropper is the New York Times bestselling author of Everything ChangesHow To Talk to a Widower, which was a Richard and Judy Book Club selection, and This Is Where I Leave YouHis books have been translated into over twenty languages. This Is Where I Leave You, which he adapted as a feature film for Warner Brothers, is scheduled to shoot this summer. Jonathan is currently adapting One Last Thing Before I Go for JJ Abrams and Paramount Pictures. He is also the co-creator and executive producer of the television show Banshee, which premiered on Cinemax in January 2013. He lives in Westchester, NY with his three children.

Find out more at

About the novel

Meet Silver. Forty-four, divorced and living alone. His once celebrated music career is now a faded memory and his ex-wife is about to marry another man. The only good thing in Silver's life is his Princeton-bound teenage daughter, Casey - and she would probably say the exact opposite about him. So in Silver's opinion, things could be going better . . . a lot better.
Then Casey drops a bombshell: she's pregnant. Yes, it was her first time, and, no, she hasn't told her mom. Silver knows things have got to change, and when he discovers he has a fatal heart condition that means he could drop dead at any minute, he decides it's time to make a list:
1. Be a better father
2. Be a better man
3. Fall in love
4. Die
But the question is, can Silver rebuild his life, regain the respect of his family, and be there for Casey when she needs him most, or has he left it all too late?
Laugh-out-loud funny and tear-jerkingly sad, One Last Thing Before I Go is a testament to Jonathan Tropper's impeccable observation, faultless style and utterly unrivalled wit.

One Last Thing Before I Go is published by Orion and is out now.

For extracts, interviews and exclusive giveaways do visit all the previous stops on our blog tour. The other stops are listed on the image above - there's a review at GirlvsBookshelf another review at Literary Relish and an interview with the author on Novelicious.


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  2. I've just read the new book by Belinda Bauer - Rubbernecker and thats most definitely a dysfunctional family also loved Gone girl by Gillian Flynn which darkly fits the description too. Thanks for offering this lovely prize.

    1. Thanks for entering and commenting Jan. Two great books you've mentioned! Good luck!

  3. Sounds like a book I'd enjoy. I love reading about dysfunctional families. A favorite? Probably The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, although this is non-fiction, sadly (because it's terrible what happened to these kids).

    I follow by Twitter, @leeswammes.

    Thanks for this wonderful giveaway.

    1. Thanks for entering and commenting Judith. I will go and look that one up, thanks for mentioning it. Good luck!

  4. Ooops forgot to say I'm following you on Twitter and I'm Beadyjan on there too x

  5. The family in Lionel Shriver's 'We need to talk about Kevin' is pretty 'out-there', I think...
    Just started following you on Twitter..@ummlilia

    what a great prize, thanks for the chance to win..

    1. Another classic one yes! Thanks for commenting June and for entering the giveaway, good luck!

  6. Two very dysfunctional families in Romeo and Juliet and lots of them in A Game of Thrones!

    1. Thanks for your comment, great picks! Do let me know how to contact you if you win.

  7. I don't think I've read many books with such a strong male lead either - especially one that deals with family relationships in this way. It is nice to see things from their point of view for a change.

    1. It's definitely a new viewpoint for me Jackie, and such a different one, made it interesting.

  8. The Radleys by Matt Haig ! You couldn't get more dysfunctional than them !
    Just finished Plan B by Jonathan Tropper, fantastic !

    1. Great recommendation, thanks Fiona! Good luck with the giveaway.

  9. I've just finished reading Daniel Clay's Broken, and the Oswalds are undeniably 'dysfunctional'. Mind you, I'm not sure any of then are exactly 'functional'......!!
    (A great book, for any of you who haven't come across it. Both the title and the cover are a bit 'misery memoir', which put me off - don't let it deter you from reading it.)

    1. Angi I loved Broken, a brilliant book, so glad you've read it too.

  10. I think the family in with Love at Christmas by Carole Matthews is dysfunctional


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