Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Human Bobby by Gabe Rotter — 304 pgs


Book CoverBobby Flopowski is a man who has it all. He is a successful physician sharing a thriving pediatric practice with a good friend, has a beautiful and loving wife, and a newborn so who is the light of his life. Bobby is wealthy, attractive, and happy, but that's all about to change. When a chance encounter with an old friend begins to stir up long-forgotten emotions in Bobby, he takes a chance and invites a person into his life who is now basically a stranger. At first, the only complications seem to be his wife's unhappiness and growing unease, but after a party one night in the Flopowski home, his life is changed forever. Now Bobby is living on the street and taking shelter in a tent once meant for grander things. Carrying only the most meager of possessions, Bobby begins his life anew. But when he catches sight of a person from his now forgotten and more successful life, Bobby starts asking questions about what really happened that night and comes to find he doesn't like the answers. Now he's on a mission to take back the life he forfeited, but when he starts delving into his past, he comes up with some surprising and frightening conclusions which make hm question everything he thought he knew. In this utterly involving and nail-biting new novel, Gabe Rotter gives his readers a look into the life of a man who once had it all and watched it slowly spiral devastatingly down the drain.

This is a book that I feel many people don't know about. Heck, even I had never heard of it before meeting Kathy at SIBA, where she just raved about it. Since hearing what she had to say about it, I've only read one other review, but I think it's a book that definitely needs more attention drawn to it. Not only is the plot twisting and intriguing, but Bobby was a character that a reader can really get attached to and root for.

Bobby is a regular guy who has a pretty extraordinary life. He's not an egotist or a control freak. He's just a guy who has worked hard for all the advantages that he has in his life and knows how to appreciate them. Bobby is easy to sympathize with but sometimes he makes stupid decisions. In getting to know this character, I could see why he did the things he did but I didn't agree with him. I wanted to slap and shake him sometimes and force him to do things differently. He goes from the top dog to the underdog rather quickly in this tale, and though it seems that the path he should travel is pretty clear, Bobby goes in precisely the opposite direction. His frustration at the change in his life is palpable, and like a lot of people, Bobby acts rashly in trying to gain control of an uncontrollable situation.

When the plot finagles it's way back into the present, we finally get a look at the new life Bobby has created for himself. He is wise and contrite, yes, but he's also a shell of the man he used to be. He lives among the homeless population eating out  of trash cans and cleans himself in the showers at the beach. But through all of this, he is still fundamentally Bobby and he makes an impact in his community by befriending others and even giving a little free medical advice. This new Bobby doesn't spend a lot of time worrying about the things he can't change and he even finds a measure of peace in the life he now lives. All that begins to change when Bobby's past comes flying right into his face and the once forgotten dreams and desires come writhing up painfully for him to confront.

One of the things that I liked most about this book was the immediate and visceral feel of the writing. Everything feels portentous and there's a quality of urgency in the way Rotter tells his story. I never got bored with this tale, and part of that has to do with the fact that Bobby was such an interesting guy to observe and inhabit; but the other part of it is that both the plot and the writing spin out effortlessly and kept me locked in until the final pages. There's a mix of playfulness and gravity that's impossible not to admire. In the beginning of the story things are so carefree and happy, and Bobby's charisma is out in full force, then, as things progress, the mood takes a definite downward spiral and our once funny and candid Bobby is reduced to seeming nothingness.

There is a lot of this book that I have to gloss over because giving too much away would definitely ruin the story. What I can say is that this is the type of book where nothing is as it seems. People's motives are suspect, situations are not what you think they are, and Bobby is right in the middle of a big mess. The story moves back and forth in time, scanning the past and blending it with the present beautifully. When all the puzzle pieces begin to fall into place, there is shock and a new understanding of both Bobby and the world he lives in. Rotter manages to hold the incredible suspense in this novel to the very last sentence, and even then, savvy readers will wonder if this might not be the end of Bobby's journey.

Gabe Rotter has another book out there called Duck, Duck, Wally, and now that I've seen what he can do, I'm itching to give that book a try as well. There's a lot to love about The Human Bobby and readers who love to get caught up in an involving tale that is both inviting and sinuous will love this book. I don't think I'll be able to forget Bobby and his strange predicament for quite some time, and I urge readers who may me unfamiliar with this book or author to give it a try and see what you think for yourself!


This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.

16 comments:

bermudaonion said...

As you know, I loved this book. I raved about it so much, Carl had to read it. He was mad at the ending when he closed the book, but the more we talked about it, the better he liked it. I really want to read Duck, Duck, Wally now. Great review, as always, Heather!

TheBookGirl said...

Terrific review!!
You have made me want to run out and find this one...I particularly appreciate that you were able to describe so eloquently what you liked about the book without giving away anything about the plot twists that appear to be integral to the enjoyment of this book...

Jenny said...

Wow... I HAVE to read this!! I actually have had it on my to be reviewed pile for quiet a while and just haven't gotten to it yet... eek! Need to move it up! Great review!

Suko said...

Zibilee, excellent review as usual. You give us just the right amount of information about this book, and it definitely sounds worth reading. I remember that Kathy also liked it a great deal.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Yeah, this is definitely a book that everyone should read and probably would enjoy. I imagine like me, it didn't take you long to read, did it? I read it in just a handful of hours. Gripping and engaging for sure. I was slightly irritated (a big "awww man!" at the end) at the cheap trick Rotter pulled, but that even made it more compelling to think about and go back and analyze. Nice review!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Sandy also raved about it, so of course it's on my list! :--)

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

You just made me want to seek this book out. It was my WOW pick months ago. Great review...I'm so curious.

Amy said...

Wow sounds like a really great book. I'll HAVE to add this to my wish list :)

Pam said...

Sounds intriguing. I will add it to my ever growing tbr list.

Jenners said...

Every single blogger who had read this book has just loved it. And I think at some point, I was offered it for review and passed ... to my eternal regret. I'll have to correct that!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I went and did it and ordered this book...your fault!!!! LOL

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

That's it. This is yet another fantastic review that I've read, so now I'm starting to feel left out. FABULOUS review, as always!!

Marie said...

sounds very very interesting! i love your enthusiasm!

Literary Feline said...

I hadn't heard of this one before your review, Heather, but it does sound interesting! You had me from the description!

Melissa M said...

I was just offered this book and declined since I didn't know when I would get to it. Now
I want to track down a copy!

Amy said...

I didn't know what to think about this book when I read a summary. It could go either way. But since then I've read several reviews, all positive. I enjoyed your review the most though because you talked about the writing which sounds really interesting and different just like the bnook.

Thanks for a great review!
~ Amy

Post a Comment

 
Blogger Template by Delicious Design Studio