Thursday, February 16, 2012
This One Time with Julia by David Lampson
This One Time with Julia by David Lampson was . . . interesting. Looking back, I'm not sure what I expected it to be, but it took a weird turn toward the end that I wasn't expecting.
Joe's twin brother Alvin has always made Joe's life more interesting. When Alvin left for Tennessee because he fell in love with a girl, Joe found himself in a sort of holding pattern involving playing a lot of poker and eating at McDonalds every day. Suddenly, Alvin returns with a suitcase full of money and a plan to buy a yacht and sail around the world. Then Alvin disappears again, but Julia (the girl Alvin went to Tennessee for) shows up looking for him. Somehow, the end result of all of this is that Joe ends up going back to Tennessee with Julia and getting a job as a pool boy at one of her family's hotels. What happened to Alvin -- did he buy a boat and sail away? Go into hiding? Is he dead?
Joe has some sort of unspecified developmental disorder. The book's cover blurb, "Maybe Joe can't grow up -- but he can love" inevitably brings Forrest Gump to mind ("I may not be a smart man..."). He's caught up in an entire cast full of shady characters, making him pretty much the only likeable character in the book (well, Julia is at least occasionally likeable). I think I expected more of a road-trip/romantic comedy, and got more of a . . . well, I'm not sure what to call this book. I'm also not sure how to recommend it. I did enjoy it in places, though the ending got a bit too weird and surreal for me . . . and I can't really say why without spoilers, so I think I'll leave it at that, and let you draw your own conclusions.
(Review copy borrowed through my library system.)