Start Without Me by Joshua Max Feldman
Originally published on October 17, 2017
“You drank to come down from that feeling, to come down after any night onstage, good or bad, and then later to get up onstage in the first place.”
“Self-pity was toxic to recovery. It was the vortex that pulled in all your resolve, all your good intentions, all your promises to yourself, until there was nothing left to do but drink, smoke, snort, fuck, whatever– because what other choice had life ever given you?”
“You kept on moving, forward. That’s what recovery was– that’s what life was, if you were any good at it. Progress. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time.”
“It was a desire not for sex, not even for friendship, but rather something simple: mere confirmation that you were not entirely by yourself.”
“This was something you became attuned to when you were an alcoholic: whose kindness you could take advantage of, and exactly how far.”
“But what did ‘in love’ mean? The words had gotten so tired and overplayed, you couldn’t even hear them anymore.”
“So they’d both from early on become accustomed to other people thinking of them as a little strange. But they got each other. So no one else in the world mattered.”
“She was weird— not charming, manic pixie weird, but weird in a way that separated her, permanently, from a body she didn’t belong in, from people who surrounded her without being able to comprehend her.”
“Some people can recognize and take action when their life begins to fall apart. And other people run screaming for whatever makes them feel better fastest.”
“Was it possible to hate someone, to fear someone, to admire her and love her, in the space of a single conversation? A single thought?”
“She hadn’t made peace with her demon: The demon was all that was left.”
“You can’t imagine how awful it is, when you’ve given up on yourself, to know someone else hasn’t.”
Adam is a former musician and recovering alcoholic who is home for Thanksgiving for the first time in many years. Surrounded by his parents and siblings, nieces and nephews—all who have seen him at his worst—he can’t shake the feeling that no matter how hard he tries, he’ll always be the one who can’t get it right.
Marissa is a flight attendant whose marriage is strained by simmering tensions over race, class and ambition. Heading to her in-laws for their picture-perfect holiday family dinner, her anxiety is intensified by the knowledge she is pregnant from an impulsive one-night-stand.
In an airport restaurant on Thanksgiving morning, Adam and Marissa meet. Over the course of this day fraught with emotion and expectation, these two strangers will form an unlikely bond as they reckon with their family ties, their pasts, and the choices that will determine their way forward.
Goodreads Rating: 3.39/5 stars
My Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Genre: Adult, Fiction