Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Bobby 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.
Posted by Zibilee at 8:00 AM