By MC Schmidt
Publication Date: May 26, 2022
I try not to look at reviews before I write mine, but I slipped a bit on this one. Most reviewers, myself included, could easily summarize this book as “darkly humorous,” which would be true. The first scene shows the MC, Phil Ochs, at work in one of his many fast food franchises. He takes a call from his son, David Samuel, who is threatening suicide by throwing himself off the roof. Phil advises his son to aim for the neighbor’s yard. A scene like that will get my attention and set off my “wth?” meter, and it for sure will keep me reading.
Here’s the blurb: Phil Ochs is a successful fast food franchisee who despairs of ever achieving the community recognition he feels he deserves, particularly with an odd, poetic son that he despises. In an effort to force his son to grow up, Phil hires a local high school kid to assault David Samuel (who, I need to point out, is twenty three years old). Without discussing it with his wife, Phil decides to run for a local Senate seat at which point we meet Eddie, a washed up, heavy drinking campaign manager whose wife has left him for their (female) attorney. In an attempt to get his career back on track, Eddie convinces Phil to hire him to navigate the election, with no idea that Phil is unelectable.
I saw satire bandied about in a lot of other reviews, as well as consternation that the humor in the first chapters didn’t continue throughout the book. While I’m not sure about the satire, I do agree with the humor – I laughed less after the first few chapters. However, I think a lot of reviewers missed something that screamed out at me – this book is about characters lacking self-esteem and how they go about finding it. Phil needs community recognition, David Samuel needs his father’s recognition, Eddie needs to figure out how to navigate life without his family, Colin needs to reclaim his self-confidence after accepting a bribe to beat up David Samuel, and Lillian (Phil’s wife) just needs someone to talk to; (she finds a captive listener with the Made for TV customer service rep.)
While the book touched on some dark places, it was funny and ended on a hopeful note. Although none of the characters found themselves where they thought they’d be at the end, I think they found what they needed.
I rated this book 3.5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐+
I’d like to thank NetGalley and Library Tales Publishing for making the ARC copy available and I’ve left this review honestly and voluntarily.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.
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