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Car Trouble

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  51 ratings  ·  13 reviews
From a bright new talent, a witty, moving, and inspirational coming-of-age debut novel set in 1970s Brooklyn about a teenager and his abusive father whose obsession with broken down vintage cars careens wildly out of control.

Nicky Flynn is coming-of-age in 1970s Brooklyn, riding into his sophomore year at St. Michaels, the last hurrah of the Diocesan school system. A
Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 11th 2018 by Harper Perennial
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Ken Dowell
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A story of a family as told in chapters defined by the junkers and low riders that the alcoholic dad brings home from poker games and police auctions. Theres no Lexus. No Prius nor a sensible family SUV. This is about widebodies with tail fins, smoking tailpipes and noisy mufflers. And chrome. Lots of chrome. Theres the Green Hornet, the Black Beauty and the Red Devil.

Rorkes novel is set in an Irish neighborhood in Brooklyn in the 1960s. It reminds me of the people Jimmy Breslin would write
Edwin Howard
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-10-in-2018
Coming-of-age when you are the eldest of five children and the only boy in the 1970's in Brooklyn can be tough but compound that with the strained race relations in Brooklyn and having an alcoholic father and you can see why Nicky Flynn in CAR TROUBLE by Robert Rorke, has to grow up quickly during his sophomore year in high school. Rorke's book covers Nicky Flynn's perfect storm of hormones, acceptance, self-discovery, family bonds (or lack thereof), and evolving Brooklyn neighborhoods.
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I devoured this book by Robert Rorke and could barely put it down. In its depiction of growing up in a family with an alcoholic father and a mother doing her best to keep food on the table and the rent paid, it struck too close to home for my comfort, so I can't say that I enjoyed it. The story is written in the first person by Nicky, the only son and the oldest in a family of five kids. Each section starts with the name of a car, and the book is built around the secession of cars that the ...more
Robert Levinson
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be fantastic. If you're a member of a family, whether the adult or the child, or a sibling, you need to read this book as it gives you insight to all the elements of family and how difficult it is to navigate family successfully.

It takes place in 1970's Brooklyn but the issues are universal. All the characters are as realistic and honest as the reader and Mr. Rorke does an exceptional job of making the reader understand the complexities of both parenting and growing up in a
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
A novel told in five cars. This is the story of a family dominated by an alcoholic father who buys old autos at police auctions. It is mainly told from the point of view of the families' sole son who has conflicts with with dad (which they all do). One bone of contention is he wants to act in his school's production of Bye Bye Birdie. What I like most about the book is the portrayal of alcoholism and the families attempt to cope with and make up for his behavior. Despite all his bluster every ...more
Thelma Adams
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Coming of age with an alcoholic father is a bitch. Robert Rorke writes compassionately and richly about an Irish American Brooklyn family struggling to survive under the gimlet gaze of a hard-drinking father. Told from the perspective of the talented and sensitive eldest son, and through a series of adventures in vintage cars purchased by the patriarch, this is a Brooklyn-set story about the cancerous effect of addiction on an entire family. A compelling page-turner by a sure-footed prose ...more
Rita Mahan
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although this was another book about growing up with a dysfunctional parental unit, dad an alcoholic and mom an enabler, there was a sense of humor and resiliency. Dad has failed to make anything of himself and turns to drink and a sense of "how things used to be" by buying old classic cars from the police auctions and fixing them up. Our protagonist can point to various events in his life by the car they owned at the time. A different take on a common theme.
Aug 21, 2019 added it
Robert Rorke went to my HS and was a good friend of Stephen Murphy (Ciccone). I did not know about Robert's home life and this book revealed a rather tough childhood because of his acholic father.

Obviously, the location of his story Brooklyn specially east flatbush and all the surrounding areas was a nice flash back in time. It was nice to think of those days again.

Quick read for me, 1 week.
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. The voice, the writing, the story. A coming-of-age novel with real heart and insight into a troubled family. Robert Rorke writes with such generosity of heart and clarity of mind that even the father, despite his violence, comes across as a complex and moving character. Highly recommended.
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. As Nicky Flynn comes of age, his father Patrick careens deeper into alcoholism. The book is witty and sad.I loved how Nicky referred to his father as "himself." I listened to it on my commute and it made my ride much more enjoyable!
Eileen Arbesfeld glick
Execellent coming of age story told by the eldest son raised in Brooklyn by an alcoholic father and devoted mother. The story explores his relationship with his father who is batling his demons and the effect this has on his troubled family. A very good read!
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great book. 1956 Brooklyn and a young man dealing with it all! Written with enough humor to take out some of the sting
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this one! About a boy coming of age in 1970's Brooklyn, trying to navigate life with an alcoholic for a father.
I loved the setting of this book. And I enjoyed the characters, even the alcoholic father. His was a complicated one.
A tough read at times because of the alcohol abuse but still a touching story about the complexities of family and addiction, and growing up and finding your true self. Recommended read!

For more of my book content check out
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