Patrick Brown's Reviews > If You're Not Yet Like Me

If You're Not Yet Like Me by Edan Lepucki
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Dec 04, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: books-i-m-thanked-mentioned-in, best-of-2010, favorites
Read in April, 2010

Let me start by saying, as I often have to, that I am incapable of giving this book an unbiased reading. My wife wrote it. Now, you might be thinking "Why did you give it only 4 stars, then?!" Good question. I have a few reasons. One, while I love this book, I think Edan has even better books to come, and when I give those 5 stars, I want people to know just how much I mean it. Second, I figure this gives all of my reviews instant credibility. If I give something 4 stars, it means just what it says it means under the stars -- "I loved it."

And I did love this book. The narrator, Joellyn, is a perfectly realized vision of a person in their late-20s or early-30s, a person who is simultaneously smart and lost. Or rather, smart and just starting to find their way. I floundered around for a while in my 20s, and I think this book, like few others I've read, nails that time in one's life. Joellyn has a career, presumably, and she lives alone in an apartment in the city, but she doesn't strike me as a real adult. She's not yet "grown up." And this, of course, is what makes her story so poignant.

I also love the character of Zachary Haas so much. He's just that perfect late-20s guy, right down to his sneakers and crappy free computer bag, and I really identified with him (which maybe says a little too much about me, sadly). I thought Joellyn and Zachary's romance was incredibly true to life. In fact, because so much of the story feels as if it came directly from my world, I think it's important to note how the author does a dazzling job of making the book succeed as more than a mere retelling of a failed relationship. The narrative tricks -- including using a kind of quasi direct address ("I can feel you getting excited about Zachary, and that excitement is dangerous, for this story doesn't end how you want it to.") -- and the book's rueful humor make this so much more than just another girl-meets-boy, girl-loses-boy story. It is recognizably our world, but the description of it -- the telling of the tale -- has so much more style than life does. I think this is the definition of great realist fiction.

It's that combination of humor and sorrow that I think will end up being Lepucki's trademark style, and it's that humor that sugar-coats what might otherwise be a quite sad story. That's as much as I can say without ruining the story for you. I will add that the 2nd edition of this book, the one that you're likely to find in a bookstore or online at this point, contains one of my favorite stories, "I am the Lion Now." It contains a baby possum (What is the term for a baby possum? A cub? A kid? A puppy?) and at one point, the narration enters the possum's thoughts. It also contains references to the Taliban. How it all connects? Well, read the story to find out.

[One last self-referential note: Others have wondered whether I am a sort of prototype for Zachary Haas. Let me end the speculation now -- I am not. It's true that I had poor personal style in my 20s, and it is also true that there was a time in my life, yes, when I enjoyed the occasional personal pizza. But never, never would I have been so blithely oblivious or confident enough on a first date as to order a salad with raw onions. I wish I had balls like that.]
17 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read If You're Not Yet Like Me.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Seeley Kudos for transparency, Patrick. ;) All the salads I make have raw (usually red or green) onions in them. And in fact, my parents used to eat raw onion sandwiches sometimes. Which I still think is peculiar, but still find cute. :)

message 2: by Michael (new)

Michael Economy Is she on the kindle?

message 3: by Michael (new)

Michael Economy also the "url" on the book/show page is showing a 404

Patrick Brown MICHAEL wrote: "also the "url" on the book/show page is showing a 404"

Yeah, their site got hacked a while back, so they probably had to scrap it. I'll let her know. Not on Kindle yet, either, unfortunately.

message 5: by Shirls (new)

Shirls I just read this on my Kindle. Wonderful characters and stories, wish there was there?

back to top