We’re All Damaged by Matthew Norman is a novel of this moment, this cultural age, as yet unnamed, in the America we are all currently immersed in. It is interesting to have our main character and narrator be a guy, Andrew, Andy, with a sort of funny way about him (not in a ha-ha way, but in an ironic, self-deprecating, nerdy but shell-shocked way). As we meet him Andy is reliving the end of his marriage to Karen. He wishes that the setting had been somewhere more appropriate than an Applebee’s. He wishes for a different soundtrack although he sees the “jagged little piece of pop music irony” in “Wake me up before you go-go” which was playing at the exact moment that Karen breaks the news, not even affected, apparently, by the older couple enjoying drinks and touching hands at a nearby table.
It has actually been a year since these events and Andy is now a bartender in NYC, but he is still feeling as bad psychically as his body feels when he gets hit by one of those speedy New York bicyclers. He has to go home with all his bruises and breaks because his family calls to tell him his Grandpa does not have long to live. He has to go home to Omaha, Nebraska, where Karen is now living in their old house with the ripped EMT guy she left Andy for. Andrew is definitely not over this. Will going home help?
When Andy stops in a local bookstore he runs into a tattooed 30-something pretty girl named Daisy. Daisy is a sort of cool girl, a seeming psychic savant and a rebel which is probably the part of her personality that connects with Andy at this point in his life. But who is Daisy and why is she so interested in his Grandpa?
You may ask if this is sort of the guy equivalent of chick lit as many have suggested, and it could be, but it is still a nice little novel about the way guys can sometimes experience a breakup as a sort of killer ego-destroying treason and how it can, perhaps, with time, lead to a higher level of maturity. I am sorry that the author chose the picture he did on his author page – it makes a handsome man with humor look cruel. Other than that, good job.
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