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The Shoe on the Roof

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  1,143 ratings  ·  190 reviews
From the Giller Prize–winning novelist of 419 comes the startling, funny, and heartbreaking story of a psychological experiment gone wrong.

Ever since his girlfriend ended their relationship, Thomas Rosanoff’s life has been on a downward spiral. A gifted med student, he has spent his entire adulthood struggling to escape the legacy of his father, an esteemed psychiatrist wh
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Simon & Schuster
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Will Ferguson once again creates a very readable novel with so many ideas going on in it that it left my brain whirling! And yet, it all worked together and wasn’t confusing or overwhelming. All the ideas that he played with fit together nicely—what is mind? Is religion still relevant? Is science where its at? He even threw in that old “nature vs. nurture” idea.

Thomas Rosanoff is our main character—raised by his father as an experiment after the death of his mother. (There are echoes of the urba
Mel (Epic Reading)
As always Will Ferguson has immaculate writing. I always really enjoy his writing style, pacing and flow. Without a doubt this Canadian (and from my local city, Calgary!) has a writing ability that is far above many others who write fiction novels (of any kind).

As with any book with a scientific focus there are a lot of technical aspects that Ferguson has to explain to us. These were probably my favourite parts of the book. Ferguson adapts a style reminiscent of Michael Crichton or sim
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
After having his heart broken by his girlfriend, Thomas – a highly ambitious and egotistical student of science and psychology – decides he will win her back by curing her mentally ill brother of the belief he is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. In doing so, Thomas will gather two additional men who also believe they’re the Son of God and house all three in his apartment. He hopes that by forcing them to confront reality, they will drop their illusions and all three will be cured.

What’s that o
Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)
You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.

Giller prize-winning author of 419 returns with a different and unique story that tackles sanity and madness through the eyes of a man who breaks everything down with science. This work of fiction is the story of Thomas Rosanoff’s, one of the most arrogant and self-centered character I’ve endured in my life. His recent breakup pushes him to conduct an unorthodox research in search for answers that he believes will be a major breakthrough in the
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
DNF I read a little more last night, but it really was shaping up to be too much of a "guy" book for me to continue. I am truly not in the mood for this kind of book, especially right now. There is just something about it that has this stink of condescension towards women, the character, Thomas, has this attitude that I just can't get behind- I may be hyper-alert towards this kind of attitude right now, but really, there is just something about it that has me wrinkling my nose at it over picki ...more
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, can-con
Thomas, there will always be an unanswerable question at the core of everything; there will always be a shoe on the roof. This world of ours is murky and filled with wonders, and there are fibers of mystery clinging to everything. Better to live with this ambiguity than try to deny it, I say.

The Shoe on the Roof opens with an apparently true story: A woman who died during surgery, and who was eventually revived, described to her doctors an experience of having left her body; floating above t
Jennie Shaw
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
The premise of THE SHOE ON THE ROOF piqued my interest but unfortunately, the execution didn't really work for me. While I've read other novels that feature a highly-intelligent and socially inept character, they also had endearing qualities. That wasn't the case here. I had a very hard time with Thomas. I didn't find his "humour" to be funny. In contrast, he was a borderline misogynistic character who had fair-weather ethics and was only concerned with himself. While the writing itself was soli ...more
Harold Walters
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
The best book I've read in November (2017). I nudged Missus and told her, "This is a good book." ...more
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs
The Shoe on the Roof focuses heavily on psychological disorders and the brain itself. The main character, Thomas, is a grad student trying to obtain his PhD, but is unable to chose a thesis. His entire childhood was an experiment run by his father who is now a pioneer in the field. Unable to extricate himself from his father's shadow, Thomas decides to cure his ex-girlfriend's brother's delusions that's he's Jesus Christ in order to win her back. Thus, begins an intriguing and funny story about ...more
Keep Calm Novel On
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
NetGalley provided a copy of the ePub in exchange for an honest review.

Will Ferguson’s novel The Shoe on the Roof is a truly original look at the relationship between son and father. Thomas Rosanoff’s father is a psychiatrist who used his son as his own lab rat. The novel exposes the unhealthy effects of his father’s experimental ways. Thomas escapes his father’s control and becomes a medical student and he is conducting his own experiment on three homeless men. Unfortunately for Thomas, his fat
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Shoe On The Roof by Will Ferguson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️🙌🏻 I was just unbelievably lucky to have @simonschusterca send me an ARC of this book ahead of its publication date in October. Besides being super excited because this is #canlit & the author is from my home province (whooo hooo Alberta!!!), I was also super intrigued by the premise of the story.

After his girlfriend ends their relationship, Thomas, a gifted led student, finds his life on a downward spiral. Thomas spent his childhood as a long-ter
Nov 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
Note: I received an eARC for this title via the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my review. (Although the book is now out in print, as well.)

DNF - I was very keen to read Will Ferguson's novel and was drawn into the story initially, but by half way I had completely lost interest. Unfortunately I didn't feel the story was well-written. The disjointedness of the writing and the ridiculous situation the main character put himself into, made The Shoe on the Roof too hard to lose myself in the
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC to preview and review. I truly enjoyed this book. It is about science, religion, medicine and relationships. It's also a murder mystery. Some of the prose is almost lyrical. Recommended. ...more
Mary Thomas
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Thanks to Netgalley for my copy.

Thomas Rosanoff is the son of a renowned psychiatrist and is the subject of one of his most famous books "Boy in the box" He is a medical student who has his heart broken by his girlfriend Amy.

Thomas has to carry out a research project as part of his studies and decides to combine this with a way to get Amy back. Her brother is a Catholic priest who thinks he is the Son of God. Thomas meets another two men who also think they are the Son of God. Eli, a down and ou
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Shoe on the Roof is such a tightly packed novel. This is the first time I read a book and thought – Oh this is going to be a lovely and light love story then think, um nope this is going to be about a friendship – foiled again, this is about a father and son relationship… wait a minute, it’s about the pharma industry only to arrive at the end and wonder what just happened.

See, I didn’t even read the blurb before reading a book. I just started reading and wasn’t sure what I was getting into.
Lana Shupe
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing

My dread grew as I sped through the pages of this novel. Mental health and all it's variations are explored here. The things we humans do to each other and the things we have done - and continue to do in the name of science - are cruel. Many things quickly become apparent - the corruption of unchecked power, the difficulty of understand the brain and it's workings, our inability to control our thoughts and feelings about the unknowns in the world and how compassion can do so much to change attit
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, and there were times when I did enjoy the story. But overall, this one just didn't do it for me. The premise was definitely intriguing and I really liked the way the author introduced Thomas as this cocky, confident, and slightly eccentric student. It was fun to read about his escapades and his conquests. Did I think the plan to get his girlfriend back was crazy? Absolutely! But I was willing to go through with reading about it. I liked the 3 homeless men and t ...more
Chris Hartley
Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, 2017
I received this book as part of the First Reads giveaway program.

I find Will Ferguson to be a writer comparable to the delusional (or are they?) trio of Messiahs in his latest novel, "The Shoe on the Roof". The reason I say this is that I find his work in non-fiction as a travel/culture memoir author to be completely different from his literate and intelligent work in fiction. It's almost like he's two different people.

As a follow-up to his Giller prize winning, "419", I was pretty excited to ge
Sammy Milne
Feb 12, 2019 rated it liked it
An unusual story - Ferguson weaves faith and science while shining a light on the experiments done to people who have mental health issues. In the 1970's , my university summer job was at a "mental" hospital , as a Psychiatric Attendant. I remember the experience - sadness , peppered with joyful moments with the patients. I was in awe that the brain could cause such a diversity of responses in life. I felt that Ferguson could have gone deeper with the impact of mental health issues on family mem ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
I've loved previous books by Will Ferguson, but this one missed the mark by a long shot. It was confusing, there were subplots that didn't really seem to fit in, their approach to science didn't really make sense (you can't just start up an experiment whenever you want- there's a thing called ethics approval), and there really wasn't anything that made me want to finish... ...more
Shauna Roth
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This story packs a punch. Ferguson’s writing style has a subtle humour that I enjoyed. It helped in dealing with the hard facts of mental illness in our society. And then there was the spirituality. I found myself rooting for the three Jesuses. At times I felt bogged down with all the scientific/medical jargon in the story. In the end it was a very satisfactory read.
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This certainly generated some very interesting and divergent discussion at Book Club tonight.
I very much liked this book. An interesting premise and lots of thoughtful ideas regarding science vs religion. It lost me at the very end which was unfortunate and hence the 4/5.
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting book on many different levels - what is madness and what is reality?
Dawna Richardson
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is really a book that explores tensions between important things in life, specifically sanity and madness and science and faith.

The main character, Thomas Rosanoff, is in many ways a product of science. He was raised by a famous psychiatrist who used him as a test subject in writing the manual on childhood development. Thomas became famous as the 'Boy in the Box' and, since he was also studying psychiatry, often
Oct 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
I didn't actually finish this book which is rare for me. Worst book ever. ...more
Melinda Worfolk
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2015-2019
Hmm. This was an odd one. The story was compelling, and the writing was good, but it was hard to read about mentally ill people being treated so poorly. Also, the book really fails the Bechdel Test and the character of Amy is a bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I mean, I think Will Ferguson tries to make her a more well rounded character, but it doesn't *quite* work. I'm not really sorry I read it, though. I did sympathize with Thomas, and I really liked Eli, Sebastian, and The Magician. Overall, ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it
A complex, layered story which opens questions about religious and scientific beliefs. Characters are more archetypes than real people. The boy in the box was raised by a famous psychiatrist who studied every minute of his life and wrote a book about it. The boy is now a very immature young medical student who tries to unravel his conflicts by kidnapping three men all of whom think they are Jesus and curing them of their delusions. Mayhem follows with some humour, tears, violence and self discov ...more
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was so strange and dark, but so well written. I loved it. I loved the characters and the ending was so perfect!
Definitely one of my favourite books this year! And written by an author local to me, so that’s pretty cool!
Excellent book club selection - good discussion material!
Thomas is the product of an ego driven psychiatrist father and flounders in his adult life - he befriends three societal misfits (all of them think they are Jesus) and attempts to "cure" their delusions.....then his father steps in and the plots twists and turns - unnecessarily at times.
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Will Ferguson is an award-winning travel writer and novelist. His last work of fiction, 419, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He has won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour a record-tying three times and has been nominated for both the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. His new novel, The Shoe on the Roof, will be released October 17, 2017. Visit him at ...more

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“Memory is the hotel curtain that never completely closes. Memory always lets in just enough light to fill the room and ruin your sleep.” 0 likes
“Thomas had once watched a dog in a park, tethered to a tree, turning in slowly constricting circles until it had to be rescued and unwound. At which point it started winding itself anew. Heartbreak is a dog in a park on a tree.” 0 likes
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