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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Plan B: A Novel by Jonathan Tropper | LibraryThing

I’ve read several of Tropper’s books. He specializes in the dysfunctional family. This one concerns four friends: our narrator, Ben, long in love with Lindsey, but just getting divorced from Sarah;  Chuck, the Rogaine-using surgeon who can’t seem to get enough sex; Jack, a movie star with a bad cocaine habit, now estranged from them after they attempted a half-hearted intervention; and Allison, Jack’s sort of girlfriend.

But the worst thing is they’re turning thirty.  If I were a dog I’d be dead. Thirty . . . shit. It’s a nice round number to arrive at if you have it all together. Success, love, a family, the overall sense that you actually belong on the planet. If you have all that, you can wear thirty well. But if you don’t, it feels like you’ve missed the deadline, and suddenly your chances of ever getting it right, of ever achieving true happiness and fulfillment, are fading fast. . . Thirty . . . shit. Crows feet, jowls, love handles. I’ve started to see myself through the eyes of the teenagers I pass on the street, repeatedly shocked by the realization that they see me as older. So many of the things I’ve eaten with impunity for years suddenly give me indigestion. Nothing feels new anymore. Everything I see just reminds me of something else. I know now that there are certain things I’ll never do in my life. A shirt I still think of as new turns out to actually be seven or eight years old. Seasons are quicker, holidays vaguely disturbing. Statistically speaking, I’ve used up more than one third of my life span, the healthiest third. And where are the tradeoffs? Where’s the authority? The wisdom? The confidence that was supposed to have come with adulthood? I’m only experienced enough to know that I’m as clueless as I ever was.” (Man, would I love to be thirty again. My kids all thought thirty was death.  Now they’re all approaching or are past forty, it’s a different story.)

Convinced they can only help Jack with drastic measures, they adopt Plan B.  They kidnap him to get him out of his addiction.  Then things get complicated. They realize their motivations weren’t quite what they professed.  On the other hand, “The Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man weren’t just helping Dorothy for the hell of it. They all had their own reasons for wanting to see the Wizard.”

A very sweet book and thoroughly enjoyable.  It has suspense, conflict, surprise, and humor.  “That guy” Don told us when we greeted him on the porch, “got into the gene pool when the lifeguard wasn’t watching.” “He definitely has severe delusions of adequacy.”

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