Book Review: We’re All Damaged by Matthew Norman
Hi everyone! I’ve been MIA for a little bit. I have been in the process of moving back home to Florida. Other than packing up my entire life, driving 10+ hours, and unpacking the small part that fit in my car, I haven’t had time to do much else. But I have found some spare time to read which tends to be a little therapeutic for me. I was actually in the middle of reading a different really boring book that I’ve since decided to move on from. It had to be fate because let me tell you I really needed to read We’re All Damaged by Matthew Norman.
This serious, yet lighthearted novel centers around Andy Carter who is having the worst year of his life. He’s recently divorced from the love of his life who cheated on him then dumped him in the worst way. This triggered the implosion of the rest of his life which leads Andy to escape to NYC where he’s barely scraping by trying to get his life back together. I mean this ex-insurance salesman is living in what sounds like a crappy studio apartment, bartending and getting stood up on blind dates he wasn’t even ready to go on. Things get worse when he has to return home to Omaha, Nebraska to see his dying grandfather. He’s been avoiding going back, mostly in avoidance of his ex and the wreckage of his life, but he has no choice but to face his past once again. Upon arrival, he finds that everything has changed. His brother drives a Range Rover, his niece and nephew are growing up fast, his parents have a new home but seem to avoid being in the same room for long, his mom is “auditioning” to be a Fox News personality and is under constant attack by non-supporters, his best friend is still angry with him, his ex is now living with the new man in their old house, and his grandfather can’t even speak to him.
In comes Daisy, hot mess that she is, to help him along on his journey to recovering from his broken heart and moving forward with his life. Her goal is to make him happy again and she swears she’s the only person for the job. She vaguely mentions being friends with his grandfather and being at odds with his mother but fails to provide Andy with much detail beyond that. Turns out she’s not exactly who she says she is (I can’t give this twist away) but before his mother exposes her in possibly the most vindictive way ever, Daisy helps Andy get his confidence back and starts him on the path of moving on from pain of his heartbreak. Things get really bad for Andy along the way. Run-ins with his ex’s new man, confrontations with his best friend and his ex-father-in-law, a stalking incident, some bruises and a major car accident that nearly kills him and his father. To top it all off, his grandfather passes away. Despite all the drama, Andy makes amends where needed and returns to New York ready to embark on a new path that surely leads to happiness.
I LOVED THIS BOOK. Maybe it’s because I could relate to Andy’s struggle and Daisy’s as well. Maybe it’s just because I’m in this uncharacteristically unhappy place in my life. Maybe it’s because I’m also dealing with the grief that comes with losing a grandparent. I’m not sure what it is exactly but this was an awesome read. It really hit home when Andy said “We hold on to the shitty things the tightest, for some reason. And this is the shittiest thing ever.” He couldn’t be more right! We all use our personal dramas and “Feel Sorry Flicks” to drown out the good and stay stuck in feeling sorry for ourselves. We get so wrapped up in what went wrong, how it went wrong, what we could and should have done differently. But in the end none of that matters. In the end, life goes on. We have to actively decide to work through the pain and find our path back to happiness. We need to appreciate the good and be grateful for the people and places that provide us healing. Things can and will get better but we have to make room for that to happen. Part of doing that is accepting that “we’re all damaged. Every single beautiful, stupid, precious one of us.” Things happen in life and we can get pretty messed up along the way but we can bounce back and be stronger and better for the experiences that we go through.
Overall 4/5 stars. Thank you Matthew Norman for this beautiful novel. You have gained a fan in me for sure. I definitely recommend it.
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