Start Without Me

Joshua Max Feldman. Morrow, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-266872-1
Feldman’s second novel, after The Book of Jonah, chronicles a Thanksgiving Day in the lives of recovering alcoholic Adam and flight attendant Marissa. After an embarrassing mishap involving a bungled attempt to make coffee for his family, Adam walks out on his parents and siblings and makes the acquaintance of Marissa at an airport restaurant. Adam has been sober for nine months and is trying to start over as a bank employee, following a life as a successful musician. He misses his former partner Johanna, whose mental problems exacerbated their downfall as a couple and a band. Marissa misses the easy early days with her husband, Robbie, and is now pregnant after a tryst with her high school sweetheart. She sees an opportunity to be distracted when she decides to drive motormouth Adam back to his family, and she feels pity when Adam is distraught after a fight with his sister, leading Marissa to invite him to dinner with her overbearing mother-in-law, Roz, and frosty father-in-law, Leo, who are both wealthy and accomplished. Marissa bristles at the idea of Robbie’s parents still supporting them as Robbie pecks away at his screenplay and dismisses her yearning for independence. Feldman nicely demonstrates how well-meaning Adam gets in his own way and how Marissa’s hang-ups with class and money lead her to make matters unnecessarily complicated, but falters at constructing Johanna, who exists as the flimsiest outline of a character. An unexpected third act has Marissa trying to make peace with her past while Adam fights off his need for a drink. The novel wraps up a little too neatly, but it is a satisfying story about chance meetings and kinship. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/28/2017
Release date: 10/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5384-5534-0
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-06-266874-5
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-06-274333-6
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-274312-1
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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