In Joshua Max Feldman
's thoughtful, bittersweet novel Start Without Me
(William Morrow, 2017), two strangers meet at an airport restaurant, and through the course of one Thanksgiving Day, help each other grapple with love, disappointment, and family. In candid, witty, and often funny, razor-sharp dialogue, Feldman confronts the fall-out from excessive drinking, mental illness, childhood trauma, drugs, adultery, and nearly every other way a person can be wounded. His deeply-flawed characters are recognizable and honest as they strive to understand their mistakes while continuing to make them. Adam is a former musical prodigy who comes home for Thanksgiving for the first time since getting sober. Even though his family has seen him hit rock-bottom, he still feels like he’ll never be able to get anything right with them. Flight-attendant Marissa is in a marriage strained by tensions over race, class, and her husband’s lack of ambition. Now she finds out that she’s pregnant following a one-night-stand with her high school sweetheart. If Thanksgiving is the classic, all-American holiday, Start Without Me
should be the classic, all-American tale about the struggle we face to become our best selves.
Joshua Max Feldman is the author of two novels, The Book of Jonah
(translated into nine languages) and Start Without Me
. Joshua has written for The New York Times Book Review
, among other publications, and is a former fellow of New York's Laboratory for Jewish Culture. He currently resides in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.