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A Stranger on the Planet
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A Stranger on the Planet

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  101 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
In the summer of 1969, twelve-year-old Seth lives with his unstable mother, Ruth, and his brother and sister in a two-bedroom apartment in New Jersey. His father lives with his new wife in a ten-room house and has no interest in Seth and his siblings. Seth is dying to escape from his mother’s craziness and suffocating love, her marriage to a man she’s known for two weeks, ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 25th 2011 by Soho Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Anita Pomerantz
Mar 05, 2016 Anita Pomerantz rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this tale narrated by a Jewish child of divorce whose mother is a bit crazy and whose father is distant. What it hard for me to discern is if anyone else would like it. I am Jewish. And, I'm a child of divorce. So it is easy for me to relate to Seth on so many levels.

Schwartz's writing style is really strong; I found his voice to be engaging, original, and witty. He really portrays his characters in all three dimensions.

That being said, the story really hinges on that character
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 22, 2011 switterbug (Betsey) rated it really liked it
This fictional and comical memoir about a Jewish man's youth and his family grabs you right away, maintaining a galloping pace from start to finish. The marathon rhythm and gonzo narrative gets you through the first, rather (too) earnest and overeager pages, and before long you are installed in a compulsively readable, page-turning story that is endearing and funny.

Seth Shapiro is an aspiring writer from a family that puts the dis in dysfunction. His parents divorced when he was very young, and
Jan 31, 2011 Jill rated it liked it
If there were a family lottery, Seth Shapiro would have been a loser. His mother is cloying if not well meaning, with cringe-worthy observations like, “Oh, look, you have pubic hair, too! So does your sister.” His father is married to the stepmother-from-hell, Hortense, who fine-tuned her mothering techniques from Mommie Dearest. His brother Seamus has gone Orthodox on him. And his sister Sarah pretends that she is a virgin so her mother won’t pry into her personal life. No wonder he’s constantl ...more
May 06, 2012 Hyeon rated it really liked it
Shelves: favoutire
90% of the book was amazing, it was funny, honest, unique and original. It was far from typical stories. It's about a jewish guy and about his life and his family problems. But it's told in a absolutly interesting way. There weren't any times that I wanted skip few pages<
But....maybe it's because I wasn't forcused but last 8% of the book seems to dread a bit and was bit boring.

Anyhow, it's so much better than some crap typical books that the Library is full of.
I'd definately look foward to
J. Cafesin
Aug 17, 2011 J. Cafesin rated it it was ok
I screwed up. I hurt the author with my last review, so I've changed it up. Same message, but less...hurtful, hopefully. Sorry Adam!

Adam Schwartz writes cleanly and competently throughout this work, but it seems to have a lot of exposition and not so much dialog. What dialog there is often seemed to me to be flat, stilted, even with seemingly intimate exchanges.

The main character, Seth, came across to me as self-absorbed, rather ungracious, angry, and disappointed at everyone but himself most of
Mar 29, 2011 Vanessa rated it really liked it
Exciting! My old boss from the Wellesley Writing Department apparently just got his novel published. Better yet, it actually sounds like something I would otherwise like to read. It's neat when people you know do cool stuff.

Update 3/26: Wow! This was some good stuff! Maybe my favorite since Skippy Dies. I was worried that I would think it was kind of mediocre and then wonder whether I should write a bad review of an author I like as a person, but fortunately I thought this book was fantastic. T
Vicki Jaeger
May 02, 2016 Vicki Jaeger rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: wouldn't
Recommended to Vicki by: advance reading copy
Uggggghhhh. I wanted to feel empathy for the main character, and really wanted to stick with the book to see if he actually grew and learned by the end. But I just couldn't. Didn't like him, didn't like his siblings, parents, or anyone connected with him.
Got through 50% of the book, and had to put myself out of my misery. Another advance reading copy fail.
Mar 16, 2015 Kevin rated it really liked it
A funny and honest story of growing up in a dysfunctional Jewish family and charting his subsequent romantic relationships. I wish more literary novels were as funny as this. Dialogue was really convincing too.
Meredith Barnes
May 23, 2012 Meredith Barnes rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lit Fic Authors who want an agent!
This Soho title slipped under my radar when I started working here, but boy am I glad I took it on vacay with me. Not only did it make a great beach read (in Australia!!) but it also surprised me. A lot.

I was expecting your typical literary fiction. But this book is exemplary in bringing to the table what I find so often lacking in lit fic: a plot. A really good one. One that bends so many rules--time jumping, multiple "Is this the end???" moments, etc.

A MUST READ if you're looking to write lit
George Ilsley
May 16, 2011 George Ilsley rated it liked it
Perhaps because I had read the credits and saw that chunks had been previously published over the years, I viewed this book as linked stories rather than a novel. It does feel that something is missing, but perhaps it is the same something that people in the book feel is missing from the central character. The smoothness of the story-telling is at odds with the big gaps in the text. Certainly I found myself less and less engaged, the more I read. The much-talked-about "fictional" piece at the en ...more
Apr 05, 2011 Jon rated it it was amazing
I said in my review of The Lie, that it was the last book that I love, and that was a lie, fancy that.

This book was. Having never been a huge Bellow fan, nor that big of a Roth fan, I've never really had a great Jewish novelist to call my own. Adam Schwartz feels like he should have been that novelist all along. Rather than re-review this book, you should check out my review of this on
Feb 16, 2011 Brian rated it really liked it
In this Jewish themed story, the narrator, Seth is a twin who comes from a neurotic Jewish mother who is divorced. The story starts when he is 12 and catapults itself several years. The story was both humorous and sad at the same time, with the first section making me laugh out loud. I read this book very quickly, but was gripped by the storyline, and found each section to be very enjoyable!
Mar 14, 2011 Ivy rated it liked it
Quick-reading, rather sad, story about a dysfunctional family told from the point of view of the oldest son. I found the jumping back and forth in time somewhat confusing and I'm not sure what it added to the story. My husband liked this story a lot more than I did -- I think it might be more of a guy's book.
Jul 22, 2011 Michelle rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
I prefer my coming of age novels to have a lot less sex than this one does.

While at times I really felt for Seth and what he had to endure with his mother, his father, and his stepmother, I also just got tired of his inability to be a decent person every time it really mattered.

Can't really recommend this one.
Feb 06, 2013 Kyle rated it it was amazing
This is a very engaging book. The characters were well written and the style was interesting. The main character Seth derived empathy and his relationship with his family was frustrating to say the least. I would definitely recommend this book as a quick, engaging read.
May 30, 2011 Wyatt rated it liked it
I have many different feelings about this book. I was bored for the first quarter of it, and didn't really find his character descriptions or development all that compelling. But, then I got sucked into it, regardless of the cliches. In the end, I mostly liked it.
Curtis Edmonds
Apr 11, 2012 Curtis Edmonds rated it really liked it
My review at the Quivering Pen blog:
Jun 24, 2011 Beth rated it really liked it
good plotting and characters. "Jewish dysfunctionaol family." told from pov of oldest son (twin) comic
Ilene rated it it was ok
Sep 14, 2016
Mary Millay
Mary Millay marked it as to-read
Jul 20, 2016
Amanda Del Brocco
Amanda Del Brocco rated it liked it
Jun 23, 2016
Cindy Hoose
Cindy Hoose marked it as to-read
Aug 08, 2016
Shana Colleen
Shana Colleen rated it really liked it
Apr 13, 2016
Beiza added it
Mar 02, 2016
Ellie Darnell
Ellie Darnell marked it as to-read
Feb 05, 2016
Ian Donnelly
Ian Donnelly marked it as to-read
Jan 30, 2016
Lori marked it as to-read
Jan 16, 2016
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Rossetti Quarter ...: Theme 2 3 Feb 28, 2015 07:01PM  
Rossetti Quarter ...: Connection 1 1 Feb 26, 2015 10:03AM  
Rossetti Quarter ...: Symbol 1 1 Feb 26, 2015 09:52AM  
Rossetti Quarter ...: 5 internal, 5 external 1 3 Feb 25, 2015 01:14PM  
Rossetti Quarter ...: Characterization 1 1 Feb 25, 2015 01:11PM  
Rossetti Quarter ...: Setting-time, place, background info, conflict 1 1 Feb 25, 2015 01:06PM  
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