Everything Changes. Jonathan Tropper.

Tropper, Jonathan. Everything Changes. Bantam Dell, New York, 2005. Presume Hachette Digital retrieved for Kindle. F; 12/14.

My wife Robin recommended this one and I liked it but ended up less than satisfied. I kept hoping it would get past a male version of chick lit produced by Sophie Kinsella but in spite of nice fluid writing and some characters with real life to them, well… it didn’t.

Our boy Zack King pops up as a nice clean young everyman except he looks like he has it made. On his way in the financial industry, free digs with millionaire buddy, and most of all picture-perfect voluptuous fiancé Hope who he goes to some repetitive length to assure us is way out of his league. It emerges that Zack’s best friend was killed not long ago, at the wheel of his BMW with Zack sitting next to him. It further develops that Tamara, the widow, is everything Hope isn’t: down-home, sincere… a natural personal and spiritual perfect fit for old Zack when he’s feeling alienated. To say nothing, as we might have anticipated, of her having all the standard-issue hot goodies Mr. Tropper appears to believe his readers expect.

Zack’s ne’er-do-well father appears out of nowhere and shows in scene after scene the charm that won his wife over many years ago, but also the fecklessness and self-absorption that made him the multiple loser he was and still is.

A variety of worrisome disasters that include Zack messing up and losing his job, and a climactic catastrophe at the big rich party his prospective father-in-law throws for the betrothed couple produce a crescendo of sitcom level suspense. PLOT ALERT But in the end as we couldn’t escape anticipating, everything works out just apple pie dandy and they all live happily ever after END PLOT ALERT.

I went away feeling like I had watched a certain kind of movie, or a TV show from the 1950s like Father Knows Best. I’m left with the quite strange idea that a world filled with family, love, and victory of our best instincts is not only what we all want and deeply need, but frankly inevitable. And of course what we really deserve.

Unfortunately things don’t work that way and never have. The difference between now and the 1960s is in 2014 (or 2005) you can’t really end a story that way and have grownups take it seriously. Mr Tropper can write well enough to hold interest and get characters and a plot launched into personal and sentimental credibility, but he stops short of permitting the ambivalence that could have made his story stick.

Like he’s got the full sixpack, but couldn’t find the plastic thing that holds the cans together. Or maybe he knows you get a better price selling beers one at a time. 6.2/8.7

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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