Feldman, Joshua Max. Start Without Me. New York: Morrow, 2017. 288p. ISBN 978-0-06-266872-1. $26.99. Fiction.
In Feldman's absorbing second novel (after The Book of Jonah), two strangers meet in the bar/restaurant of an airport hotel in Connecticut. Adam Warsaw, an alcoholic ex-musician, returns to his parents' home for Thanksgiving. Up before anyone else, he accidentally shatters a full coffee pot. Unable to face his family without a drink he flees. At a nearby airport hotel, Marissa Russell, a tired flight attendant, married six years but pregnant from a one-night stand, is at odds with her husband, Robbie, who is waiting for her at the home of his upper-class family in Vermont. Robbie, son of a black father and a Jewish mother; Adam, adrift, missing his former bandmate Johanna; and especially Marissa, with her terrible secret, all have toxic families. When fate couples Adam and Marissa, they set out on a one-day odyssey that will force them to confront family history and their rocky present. This compact, well-crafted novel, alternating between two points of view, asks the age-old question--how do you get from where you are to where you want to be?--but does so with indelible protagonists and a vision firmly anchored in the reality that surrounds them. VERDICT Highly recommended for those interested in family dynamics, which means most of us.