Sunday, June 24, 2018

Review: The Comedown - Rebekah Frumkin

"Of those who've shut their eyes to the world with few or no regrets, it can be said both that their number is small, and that Leland Abdiel Bloom-Mittwoch Sr. was not among them."
Two things I am always excited to find when I first open a novel: a map, and a family tree.

The presence of either suggests that there is so much more here that you might need a guide to more fully appreciate and immerse yourself in it - complex bloodlines, or perhaps a previously uncharted world. And while sometimes the map or chart is a necessary reference to understanding a book, other times, like this one, it is more of a visual preparation for the journey ahead: don't forget we are all connected.

From the arresting first sentence quoted above, The Comedown (Rebekah Frumkin, Henry Holt & Company 2018) charges headfirst into a gripping first chapter, which, it will be no spoiler to tell you, culminates in our Leland, to whom we have very quickly become attached, throwing himself from the roof of a Tampa, Florida hotel. To understand why he should do such a thing, we travel back in time to Cleveland, Ohio, where a drug deal goes bad and cascades into a fateful chain of events that become this funny/sad/heartwarming and deeply satisfying family saga.

The plot is punctuated with exciting elements: dealers, double crossers, murder, and a suitcase full of cash - but the story is really one of family and how the legacy of our actions and mistakes ripple across generations. The structure of the novel amplifies this: chapters move forward and back in time, and rotate through the cast of characters, steadily threading each person and place to another. In some books a timeline like this might get confusing, but I didn't find it so here. Frumkin's characters are so carefully detailed and thoroughly developed that any of them - including two wives, a mistress, a best friend, their children, and their lovers -  could be an entire novel unto him/herself. And because they were so complete, and written which such love and humor, I loved them all, even the maddening ones, as if they were my own family.

Follow the suitcase. Relish the writing. Miss them all when the book is done.

Happy reading!

I received my complimentary copy of The Comedown from the publisher. 

1 comment :

  1. The design on the cover makes me think this is a computer/sci-fi book. Do you feel like the cover fits with the plot?


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