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Title: The Book of Joe
Author: Jonathan Tropper

You can’t go home again or can you?

Joe Goffman faces this reality after receiving news his father is gravely ill and his family is requesting he return home to see him before his death. Only one problem: Joe has infuriated his entire small hometown by writing a thinly veiled novel called Bush Falls about everyone he grew up with.

With Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run serving as a backdrop, Joe goes home to face demons he swore away seventeen years ago. He returns to a salty reception from all which is not unexpected. What he didn’t expect was to come to terms with his faulty memory of how things were. What was nearly two decades ago isn’t necessary what is true today. And how you perceived things as a teenager may not be how they really were.

Tropper throws in chapters of Joe’s own book to bring the readers in to his previous world. In truth, I liked Bush Falls a lot and wish it had been a novel on its own. I’m not one for flashbacks in stories, but here it was necessary to learn where the main character was coming from.

Tropper does what he’s known for here. He makes grief and regret palpable. While we’ve not all alienated our entire home town, we know what it’s like to make mistakes, to regret decision, and feel a need to rectify our situations.

Don’t turn me home again
I just can’t face myself alone again

Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen

About indie librarian

a recently MLS librarian's observations
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