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.

Library Journal, 142, no. 15 (September 15, 2017).

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