Warning: before you pick up Justin Halpern's I Suck at Girls
to read for the first time, be sure to set your coffee down. Failure to do so may result in some spilled beverage all over the book pages or your Kindle.
You know, it really hurts when hot coffee spurts out your nose...
Without dropping any spoilers, the author dedicates his newest book to Amanda, and it quickly becomes clear in the first chapter that she was his focus. Early on we find that he has decided to propose to her, so he goes to that one particular person who he knows will tell him, direct and to the point, what he thinks: his dad, Sam. Amanda wants to talk to him, and Justin isn't sure what to do. He wants his dad to shoot straight with him, though his father has a frequent habit of going slightly off topic, as found in this sage advice:
"Human beings do dumb sh*t. You do dumb sh*t. She does dumb sh*t. Everyone does dumb sh*t. Then, every once in a while, we have a moment where we don't do dumb sh*t, and then we throw a goddamned parade and we forget all the dumb sh*t we did. So what I'm saying to you is, don't do something, or not do something, to punish someone because you think they did something dumb. Do what you want to do, because it's what you want to do. Also, bring me a grapefruit from the kitchen and some salt and pepper."
First time readers may be jolted with the frequently profane dialogue issued forth by Justin's eloquent father, who has his own way of expressing himself. Readers of Halpern's earlier book, Sh*t My Dad Says
, will not find this surprising in the least. And fans of this earlier work will not be disappointed with Justin's odyssey.
Unsurprisingly, his father doesn't mince words in the least, and this book is a collection of some of those lessons learned in his quest to learn better in his dealings with the females of the species. And some of these are personal reflections, such as this:
"Eventually, though, I came to the conclusion that I was the male equivalent of a Toyota Camry. You know: No one ever says, `I have to have a Toyota Camry.' But most people who spend some time in a Camry start to like it. `It's pretty reliable,' they think. `It doesn't have a lot of problems, and it's not bad to look at. You know what? I'd probably prefer a nicer car. But I can live with a Camry.'"
Like many, this reader first became aware of the frequently expletive-laden comments issued by Justin's expressive father from his Twitter feed a few years ago. The author had been recording his father's voluble gems there, and in a little over a year he had over two million following those irreverent, other hilarious and sometimes thought-provoking words of his father. This of course resulted in his first book, published in 2010, which hit the New York Times Best Seller list for hardcover nonfiction, enduring at #1 for eleven weeks. It stayed on the bestseller list for almost a year.
This book is filled with similar moments to Halpern's first one, and the descriptions of some of his adventures left me laughing openly. Again no spoilers, but look for the chapter in which he describes in finding a stash of hidden adult magazines, grabbing them and being pursued by "two bearded homeless men, each of whom looked like Nick Nolte rendered in beef jerky." That description was enough to get me laughing, but the narrative of what follows with his father is even better, and it did provoke even more open laughter.
His encounter with Sarah, with the accompaniment of a rented video copy of "A Few Good Men" is a classic. It's one that many males can reflectively empathize with, and that chapter alone is worth the price of this book.
The language found in both of Halpern's books might be distasteful to some readers, but in this one there's some real heart in the advice that Justin's father offers his son. It may not be the type of obscenities that many of us would interject our own advice to our kids, but this parent can say that upon occasion I thought of some of them.
As his dad says: "Any idiot can get lucky once. Takes a special idiot to get lucky twice."
There is wisdom in that parental admonition, and that's what makes this 5-star read so good. See for yourself - you won't be disappointed.
Note: Portions of this review originally appeared on Amazon.com
in a censored version, as the term "sh*t" is not allowed on that site, even in reference to the title of Justin Halpern's earlier book, Sh*t My Dad Says
, due to their guidelines regarding objectionable content.