This Book Will Save Your Life by A . M . Homes is focused around the life of Richard Novak who is a semi-retired stock broker from LA. The beginning of the story introduces us to his rather mundane and repetitive lifestyle which is organised and coordinated by his army of paid workers, namely Sylvia the Nutritionist, Cecelia the House Keeper and also a personal trainer, Novak’s only social connections that decide what is best for him on all accounts. With his healthy, low carb meals organised and his housekeeping tended to Novak does not have any immediate need to venture into the outside world, infact he has unknowingly not left the house for nearly a month, that is until one morning when his life takes an unexpected turn.
Novak one day finds himself in excruciating pain, he cannot explain for how long, all he knows is that the pain is on a scale of 10 out of 10.
Hours at least. But it could be for days or years – he had no idea.
Novak has sustained no injury and it feels like it is “IT” the end game, while we as the reader are thrown into the deep end trying to fathom, is he having a heart attack? Dying? Panic attack? Or perhaps merely a hypochondriac who often has behavioral episodes of a similar nature, as we do not yet know the character that is Richard Novak and nor do we know his background and character history. On the same day the pain appears, (the pain that is never truly explained by the medical physicians in the story) a sink hole appears about fifty feet from his house, it is eight feet in diameter and continues to grow as the story progresses. I personally interpret this sinkhole to represent the void in Novak’s life, the emptiness that has slowly became his existence as he has purposely removed himself from the world and any obligations he once had. The pain he was experiencing may reflect the pent up emotion that had been unleashed, after being numb for as long as he can remember.
He lay there realizing how thoroughly he’d removed himself from the world or obligations, how stupidly independent he’d become: he needed no one, was not a part of anyone’s life.
He wasn’t sure he existed.
It is the realization of being alone that begins to smother Novak. He becomes conscious of the fact that he has no one to call apart from his ex wife or a son, whom he barely sees. It is when he is being escorted home by a hospital organised taxi driver that he steps outside his usual routine and asks to pull over at a Doughnut store, where he then meets another influential character in the story, Anhil, who is the first person Novak has held a conversation with in a long, long time. The story continues from here to lead us through the transformation of Novak’s hermit lifestyle to a new and exciting beginning. We see the caring side to Richard that is there from the start, but hidden under his inability to “live” his life. We experience the crazy events that unfold on a day to day basis as Novak simply goes from A to B while introducing the sugary sweet doughnuts from Anhil’s shop to his glorified junk food free body.
We also meet a depressed housewife who Novak befriends in the produce section at a store called Ralph’s.
I was crying because my life sucks, and he’d just been hit by a car and had a big bag of ice on his leg. I made him buy a Carvel cake.
A movie star that lives up the road, who helps Novak rescue a horse out of the sink hole. a famous writer, and many more characters that help transform this wonderful characters life.
The characters are all living somewhat lost, sad, unfulfilled or lonely lifestyles however they all come from different walks of life. Despite being wealthy, Richard Novak is far from content, it just took a long time for him to realise that. The pain was more of a wake up call, a cry for help. His body was aching for human contact and a sense of belonging. A person can have all the money in the world, but if there is no one to share it with, or nothing left to achieve, is that person going to be happy?
The structure of the story is untraditional and unpredictable. It is not a case of “Will the lost boy find his way home? Will they find the culprit?” Or “Will Mrs Smith find her true love?”…the story progresses gradually with random occurrences which are unexpected and at the same time wonderfully unique.The characters nonchalant attitudes to the most fantastically unusual events would usually be somewhat unbelievable, however A.M Homes has superbly perfected her story to portray the reactions and events in a convincing tone. The book is sharp, witty, entertaining and most definitely funny. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and wish I could read more, and experience some of the crazy events that unfolded when Novak gave life a chance.
This Book Will Save your Life by A. M. Homes will captivate your imagination and provide you with hours of entertainment! Read the book and join Richard Novak in his life transformation and re-connection to society in the weird and wonderful world of LA. For the most authentic experience, don’t forget the doughnuts!
In reference to the title, if you are currently feeling isolated, disconnected and alone, yes this book may help open your eyes to new experiences and face the unknown, if you give it a chance. Homes will lead you part the way there in the footsteps of Novak, but it is you that must take the final steps and open that door.