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Start Without Me: A Novel

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  649 ratings  ·  101 reviews
The author of the critically acclaimed The Book of Jonah explores questions of love and choice, disappointment and hope in the lives of two strangers who meet by chance in this mesmerizing tale that unfolds over one Thanksgiving Day.

Adam is a former musician and recovering alcoholic who is home for Thanksgiving for the first time in many years. Surrounded by his parents an
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published October 17th 2017)
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3.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  649 ratings  ·  101 reviews

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I won this in a giveaway! (Thank you, William Morrow)

"Start Without Me" by Joshua Max Feldman is a quick and engaging read that takes places over the course of one (Thanksgiving) day. Feldman did an excellent job of cramming every situation and dilemma that could happen to a person on such a stressful day for Adam, (a recovering alcoholic, ex-musician) and Marissa (a pregnant flight attendant, trapped in a shitty marriage to a man-child). Adam and Marissa are strangers to each other, but they me
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarything
What would holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas be without family drama? This book covers one Thanksgiving Day in the lives of Adam and Melissa, two strangers who meet on this more-than-stressful-for-them day.

Adam is working in a bank and trying to live a sober life. He had been quite a successful musician but the life on the road and a broken love has led him to alcohol abuse. He hasn’t spent a Thanksgiving with his family in years and although this is the year he really wants to try, he’s
DJ Sakata
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Favorite Quotes:

The stillness of the house was deafening somehow—like all the sleeping people were vibrating at a frequency only he could hear: his family, ringing in his ears.

They’d been fighting daily lately, like it was a setting in their relationship they didn’t know how to turn off.

Marissa’s temper had a velocity such that she only knew she’d lost it about the same time everyone else did.

I don’t even recognize you anymore, with this persona you have now, of this like, like, rich soccer mom,
Christina Kline
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A darkly comic novel about two strangers who meet on Thanksgiving morning and end up on an odyssey that neither of them expects, START WITHOUT ME is a smart, pitch-perfect story about how our families are made up of people who know us better than anyone — and yet somehow often don’t know us at all.
Barbara White
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was fortunate enough to read an advanced copy of this stunning novel. I loved everything about it-- the characters, their stories, the gorgeous writing, and the effortless way Joshua Max Feldman creates such tension and drama from a seemingly random act of fate: two strangers, both facing a crossroads in life, start a conversation in an airport restaurant on Thanksgiving Day. From that one conversation, and over the course of one day, everything will change. Adam and Marissa pulled me in from ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mount-tbr-2018
2.5 stars

I like the premise, but it was uneven. I almost gave up on it... then I was mesmerized. When I picked it up again, I couldn’t remember why I liked it... then I couldn’t wait to see what choices Adam & Marissa would make.

Ultimately I don’t buy it, that these two particular strangers would find a way to spend Thanksgiving together. We don’t get to see what in Marissa would loosen her up to bring this guy to her in-laws’ when her marriage is in a crisis; and while there are moments of
2.5 stars

Based on the cover art and the description "hilarious and heartrending" in the summary, I guess I expected this to be a lot more jaunty? But in fact, it's really quite grim. I certainly don't think that any of it was "hilarious" (nor did anything seem like it was intended to be?). Heartrending? Probably not the word I would use. I think a better descriptor would simply be "gritty."

Case in point: the author seems to be going for hyper-realism here, and as such there is a lot of foul lang
Kate Olson
Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for the free review copy!

If you want your holiday stories to be sweet and happy and functional, this one isn’t for you. However, if your life has in any way touched by addiction or addiction of a loved one.....or if you’ve ever fought with your family, or been brought up by dysfunctional parents - this book is for you. It’s not an easy read and the characters struggle mightily, but who am I to judge? Nothing annoys me more than people living charmed and
A dark but surprisingly readable story about two strangers who meet in New England on Thanksgiving and find escape - and strength - from their dysfunctional families together. Here is a link to my review:
Nov 03, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Don't bother.
Morninglight Mama
Damn if this isn't the worst Thanksgiving ever. This novel had me wincing again and again, out of empathy and judgment, I admit it. Overall, I enjoyed the narrative, even as I wondered what the hell was going to happen that could possibly be worse. I want to believe that two strangers could meet under odd circumstances and end one day together feeling as if they truly knew each other. The two protagonists here had some pretty rough hands dealt to them, and neither made the best choices in how th ...more
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pardon me while I compose myself, because this was a really emotional book to read. In fact, because of recent life events, I had to set this aside for a while because it was a little bit too much. Trust me when I say, that's a compliment of the highest order to Joshua Max Feldman. Start Without Me is breathtakingly beautiful. It's a love letter to all the people out there who are holding it together the best they can, while struggling to find their happiness in a world that seems to overlook th ...more
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
She is a stewardess trying to get to her in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner. He is the dysfunctional member of his Norman Rockwell family.

There meeting is a crash cross.

I can say at first I was a little hesitant with the direction the book was going but was
Pleasantly surprised.

If the holidays have you down and you want a feel good pick me up this will be one to consider. I laughed at parts of the book and sniffles at parts I could relate too.

Sara Strand
We have a lot of balls in the air with this book- we have Adam, not even a year into sobriety from alcoholism, who is rebuilding his life (kind of) after the end of his relationship with Johanna and break up of the band he was in. He's a mess. He kind of reminds me of James Frey in A Million Little Pieces, he has the potential to be a lot of things but it's himself that prevents it. He has a good family who are all fully over his crap and he's almost angry about it, like they should want to deal ...more
Kay Kuever
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, real-book
Growing up, family dinners and holidays were far and few between. Between having much older siblings who lived on the opposite side of the country with their own lives and the clear tension that drew a line in the sand between my parents, the holidays were never cheery Christmas songs and sitting down at the same table. That was until I met my husband and I saw how the other side lived. Suddenly, my tradition of never worrying about where to be on Thanksgiving turned into three full Thanksgiving ...more
Erin Hussey
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
A quick and engrossing read that throws together two sympathetic thirty somethings that need a change in life. Both running from families they can’t deal with, they find support in each other. The writing is fresh and the story moves fast, resulting in making this a one day read. I really enjoyed the characters because of, not in spite of, their flaws.
Susie | Novel Visits
Original Source:

My Thoughts: Start Without Me opens with 35-year old Adam waking up in his childhood bed, staring down a nephew he barely knows, and feeling very out of place in his parents’ home. Adam has been a semi-successful musician most of his life, but he’s also been an alcoholic much of that time. He knows he’s caused his family a lot of pain and facing their judgement is really more than he can bear and quickly he flees. Marissa, 31 and a flight
Angela Hursh
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing. In the vein of the movie "Home for the Holidays" except even more dysfunctional and interesting. I loved it.
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: oct-2017, giveaway, own-it, m
I won this in a goodreads giveaway! Thank you William Morrow/ Harper Collins

Nicely paced quick read that takes place over one day - Thanksgiving! Two strangers help each other though their individual family dramas. Nothing romantic here, so if you are looking for that, look elseware. No high jinks drama craziness, just the usual sort of personality and history conflicts that you can only have with family. Even though the novel only covers one day, it comes to a satisfying conclusion and made me
I received a copy of this book through Goodreads’ First Reads program. To quote Tolstoy, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This book was certainly a meditation on the unhappy end of the spectrum, during one Thanksgiving day. Marissa and Adam’s chance meeting in an airport restaurant leads the reader to exploring a series of unfortunate holiday events among both of their families. It’s not your typical, shiny holiday story, with a redemptive happy endi ...more
Sep 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family, fiction, arc
Adam is nine months sober and still fighting for every day of it. He's attempting his first family event in a long time, and it doesn't go well. Flight attendant Marissa is the daughter of an alcoholic, and struggling with her own life choices, both good and bad. She's attempting her husband's family gathering for Thanksgiving, and it doesn't go well either. And there you have pretty much the entire story. I found the characters to be lightly drawn on the page, and neither drew me in much at all ...more
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to TLC Book Tours and William Morrow paperbacks for my free review copy. All opinions expressed below are my own.

Introducing Adam and Marissa. The two meet getting coffee early on Thanksgiving morning. Adam is a recovering alcoholic who is avoiding his family for the holidays. Marissa is just coming off of an overnight-er as a flight attendant and is dreading seeing her in-laws for the holidays. This unlikely pair unite for the day to share a ride, but end up supporting each o
Jessica Higgins
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Big issues are explored using families and holidays to see how things can be bigger than just one person.

When Adam decides to go home for Thanksgiving after years of avoiding his family for his music and drinking, he knows he shouldn’t expect much. They have all seen him at his worst and he feels that no matter how hard he tries, he won’t be able to get anything right. Marissa is dealing with troubles in her marriage and being a flight attendant always away from home doesn’t make things any easi
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Start Without Me by Joshua Max Feldman is an interesting character study that will resonate with readers who have complicated family relationships.

Recovering alcoholic Adam Warshaw is spending the first Thanksgiving with his family in years and he has barely arrived before he runs away. Planning to fly back to San Francisco, he is passing time at a hotel restaurant where he meets flight attendant Marissa who is also not looking forward to spending the day with her husband, Robbie and his family.
The Short of It:

What happens when a recovering alcoholic returns home for Thanksgiving, only to abandon his family because he just can’t imagine being with them?

The Rest of It:

Adam is home for Thanksgiving and overwhelmed by his family. He’s a recovering alcoholic and being home is just too much for him to deal with.

Marissa is a flight attendant and pregnant with another man’s baby. Her husband, who senses that their relationship is strained, has no idea what he’s in for when she shows up for th
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Start Without Me by Joshua Max Feldman follows two main characters: Marissa, a flight attendant who is pregnant from a one night stand - a pregnancy she intends to keep secret from her husband lest their already strained marriage become moreso.

Then there is Adam, a former musician-slash-recovering alcholic-slash-epic screw up, home for the holidays for the first time in years (he can't even rememember his nephew's name).

The book takes place all on Thanksgiving day. Adam and Marissa meet each oth
Sharon May
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book - especially one to read over the Thanksgiving holiday!

Adam and Marissa meet by chance at an airport restaurant on Thanksgiving morning. Adam, a recovering alcoholic, former musician, is headed home to his parents' house. He knows he's been a huge disappointment to his family and is stressed about what is to come. Marissa, a flight attendant, is married into a rich family, complete with class and race issues, with a husband who is content to not have a job while trying to w
Start Without Me is the story of two unhappy strangers that meet in an airport lounge on Thanksgiving Day. Adam is a recovering alcoholic who has gone home to have dinner with his family but finds himself unable to cope and leaves early Thanksgiving morning before they all get up. Marissa is a flight attendant who grew up poor with a single alcoholic mother who often abandoned her children so that she could drink. She has married into a wealthy family but is now pregnant after a one night stand ...more
Nov 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story brings two strangers together on Thanksgiving and follows them through the day. They are each dealing with their own personal and family issues and both feel alone. Adam is an ex-musician and recovering alcoholic who feels he is always letting his family down. Marissa had a rough childhood and has now married into an affluent family. Neither are happy and they have issues they have not reconciled. Thanksgiving brings the main characters to interact with their own families, but they pr ...more
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Play Book Tag: Start Without Me - Joshua Max Feldman - 3 stars 1 12 Nov 06, 2018 01:30PM  
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Joshua Max Feldman is a writer of fiction and plays. His first novel, THE BOOK OF JONAH, has been translated into nine languages. His newest book, START WITHOUT ME, will be published in October, 2017 by William Morrow. He currently resides in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.
“The stillness of the house was deafening somehow—like all the sleeping people were vibrating at a frequency only he could hear: his family, ringing in his ears.” 1 likes
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