BOOK REVIEW: The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

Once in a while, books come along that feel special, books that leave me choked up for no reason, books that make me feel like I’m on a runner’s high when I read them.

The Good Luck of Right Now is one of those books. It almost feels like it was written for me.

The plot is unremarkable: Bartholomew Neil, a man implied to have an intellectual disability who recently lost his mother, processes his grief with the help of his doubting priest Father McNamee, his troubled grief counselor Wendy, his cat-obsessed, alien-fearing therapy buddy Max, and Max’s sister Elizabeth AKA the Girlbrarian AKA Bartholomew’s dreamgirl.

The events are relayed through Bartholomew’s letters to Richard Gere, his mother’s favorite actor, with whom Bartholomew feels he shares a spiritual connection.

Epistolary novels are my favorite–you as the reader learn so much from the narrator’s limited (and often unreliable) perspective by what they exclude, focus on, and misunderstand.

I started to love the book almost midway through when tensions escalated between Bartholomew, Wendy, and Father McNamee. The book gave an honest and accurate portrayal of what it’s like to live with an abuse victim, struggle with doubt, and deal with negative self-image. Throughout, Bartholomew describes an “angry little man” who lives in his stomach and shouts abuse any time he makes a mistake, a phenomenon any self-conscious person can relate to. Though not directly related, these lines stuck out all the more because of it:

And what is reality, if it isn’t how we feel about things? What else matters at the end of the day, when we lie in bed alone with our thoughts?

The ensuing scene, where the Father and Bartholomew fail to convince Wendy to leave her boyfriend, was spot-on–not sure if Quick has had loved ones in abusive situations, but he nailed it.

While the emotional moments were good, I kept reading because I was desperate to know: WOULD THEY EVER MAKE IT TO CAT PARLIAMENT?

I was still wondering down to the last 10 pages, speedreading like crazy to find out.

If I had one critique, the ending seemed a bit rushed because so much was packed into the final pages. Still, I preferred it to the more ambiguous ending of Silver Linings Playbook. I like, too, that it was happy; endings don’t need to be tragic to be satisfying.

Great read deserving of space on your bookshelf.

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