April 23, 2013

In The Land of The Living by Austin Ratner



Publication Date: March 2013
Categories: Jewish, Family Life, Medical

Description: 

Driven both by grief at his young mother's death and war with his distant, abusive immigrant father, patriarch Isidore almost attains the life of his dreams: he works his way through Harvard and then medical school; he marries a beautiful and even-keeled girl; in his father-in-law, he finds the father he always wanted; and he becomes a father himself. He has talent, but he also has rage, and happiness is not meant to be his for very long. 

Isidore's sons, Leo and Mack, haunted by the mythic, epic proportions of their father's heroics and the tragic events that marked their early lives, have alternately relied upon and disappointed one another since the day Mack was born. For Leo, who is angry at the world but angrier at himself, the burden of the past shapes his future: sexual awakening, first love, and restless attempts live up to his father's ideals. 

Just when Leo reaches a crossroads between potential self-destruction and new freedom, Mack invites him on a road trip from Los Angeles to Cleveland. As the brothers make their way east, and towards understanding, their battles and reconciliations illuminate the power of family to both destroy and empower-and the price and rewards of independence. 

What I Liked:
  • Coming of age
  • Family saga
  • Road trip!
  • Humorous
  • Neurotic characters
  • All around quirkiness
  • Complicated relationships
I always dig those types of stories and characters. Unfortunately there's also this category...

What I Didn't Like:
  • Potty humor (I'm no prude but there are only so many poop jokes that a girl can take)
  • Meandering middle section that nearly lost me
  • Almost too quirky? Affected? Showy? Something.
If I gave star ratings on this blog (I don't) this one would get 3 out of 5. It stretched my mind, but maybe a little too far.

22 comments:

  1. I'm glad to see you thoughts on this one The potty humor right from the beginning put me off, but it does seem like an interesting premise. Not sure if I will get to it.

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    1. To be honest I'm still not sure how I feel about this book ;)

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  2. Hmmm... I'm pretty sure I won't be chasing this one down. Potty humor and affectation are not my favorites.

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    1. It was just a strange little read. There were moments that I really connected..but then there were times when I was struggling to get that connection back. Rats.

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  3. I think quirky is really hard to do. When it works, it's wonderful. When it doesn't work, things tend to crash and burn...

    Sorry this one wasn't for you!

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  4. Too quirky/affected as in... it felt like it was trying too hard, maybe? (I downloaded this one from NetGalley yesterday, but won't be starting it for a while)

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    1. Yes, trying to hard. Things would be swimming along nicely and all of a sudden I would feel as if I dropped into a funky dream land? Strange.

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  5. Just finished reading Knots and Crosses and started Haunted Grounds.

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    1. I hope you're enjoying your current read Charlotte :)

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  6. Disappointing . . . I have this one waiting in the wings to read. I'm not a fan of potty mouth humor, although I can take it in small doses. And a slow middle doesn't sound promising, especially given how short my attention span is these days with things that don't hold my interest. I'll likely still give it a try (you never know, I may love it, right?), but I will keep my expectations low. Great review today (as always), Jennifer!

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    1. You might completely love it! In fact, I hope that you do :)Thanks so much for your kind words, you're a peach!

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  7. I downloaded this one in the Great NetGalley Invite Disaster of 2013 and have been wavering over whether to read it now (but May feels packed with new pubs for me) or wait until I have a bit more time. Sounds like it might be put on the backburner for now.

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    1. Bwahaha, I've had disasters like that as well ;) May is packed for me as well..busy month! I wouldn't discourage you from backburnering (<~~new word!) this one, lol.

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  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It's always nice to hear an honest review.

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    1. Thanks Deb :) I wish I could fall deeply in love with every book I read. Don't we all? Alas, that is only a dream!

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  9. Loved this one, Jennifer (your review, I've not read the book). Your suggestion of a rating is really helpful in this case, too, because although you've got the negatives there, the positives sound the sort to out way them. I'm thinking road-trip and quirkiness, awesome, but I guess I should take a bit longer to decide.

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    1. One thing I should mention is that I'm still thinking of this book. That says a lot I suppose ;)

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  10. This sounds like an interesting novel with many strengths. Maybe the author tried a bit too hard to be edgy?

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    1. I'd really like to read his first novel, The Jump Artist. I've heard that it was quite the debut. It won some prizes as well.

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  11. Waaah. It sounded interesting, but your negatives make me not want to read it. Who needs so many poopy jokes?

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    1. It's not so much jokes as mentions, if that makes sense? I've run across that kind of thing in books where it works...where it fits. But it didn't in this case. (To me anyway!)

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