I’m a sucker for holiday stories where the main character is going home to family where things have been tense in the past. Maybe it’s because it typically works out better than they hoped or maybe because I just can’t get enough of family drama and I don’t know why.
Start Without Me reminds me a lot of This Is Where I Leave You just in overall tone and probably because it’s the last book I read where a man goes home to visit his family and all hell breaks loose.
Adam is a former musician and a recovering alcoholic. He goes home for Thanksgiving after years of not attending the family gathering. He’s recently sober and just trying to take things one day at a time, but he’s afraid of messing things up again. He eventually bails on family Thanksgiving and goes back to the airport. Which is where he meets Marissa.
Marissa is a flight attendant and her marriage is rocky to say the least. She’s supposed to go to her in-laws’ house for a “picture-perfect” Thanksgiving (her father-in-law is a government official), but she was also invited over to her mother’s house – a place she hasn’t been in years.
Can you just feel the tension already? It’s great.
Adam and Marissa meet in an airport restaurant and Marissa ends up inviting him to her in-laws’ Thanksgiving. It doesn’t go well and more drama ensues.
Adam and Marissa aren’t always easy to like and you definitely never want to be in their shoes. In fact, reading their story is a little painful sometimes because they keep making bad decisions throughout the day. They’re both human train wrecks, really. And yet, I couldn’t stop reading. I read this book faster than usual because I just had to see what happened next.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are well on their way, so if you’re looking for a quick read that will prepare you for the worst and maybe show you what not to do, check out Start Without Me.
• Hardcover: 288 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (October 17, 2017)
The author of the critically acclaimed The Book of Jonah explores questions of love and choice, disappointment and hope in the lives of two strangers who meet by chance in this mesmerizing tale that unfolds over one Thanksgiving Day.
Adam is a former musician and recovering alcoholic who is home for Thanksgiving for the first time in many years. Surrounded by his parents and siblings, nieces and nephews—all who have seen him at his worst—he can’t shake the feeling that no matter how hard he tries, he’ll always be the one who can’t get it right.
Marissa is a flight attendant whose marriage is strained by simmering tensions over race, class, and ambition. Heading to her in-laws for their picture-perfect holiday family dinner, her anxiety is intensified by the knowledge she is pregnant from an impulsive one-night-stand.
In an airport restaurant on Thanksgiving morning, Adam and Marissa meet. Over the course of this day fraught with emotion and expectation, these two strangers will form an unlikely bond as they reckon with their family ties, their pasts, and the choices that will determine their way forward.
Joshua Max Feldman focuses his knowing eye on one of the last bastions of classical American idealism, the Thanksgiving family gathering, as he explores our struggles to know—and to be—our best selves. Hilarious and heartrending, Start Without Me is a thoughtful and entertaining page-turner that will leave its indelible mark on your heart.
About Joshua Max Feldman
Joshua Max Feldman is the author of The Book of Jonah. Born and raised in Amherst, Massachusetts, he has lived in England, Russia, and Switzerland, and currently resides in Brooklyn.