Consider Zachary King, the 32-year old main character of Jonathan Tropper's novel, Everything Changes. He lives in a luxurious rent-free apartment in Manhattan courtesy of his millionaire best friend, Jed. He has a beautiful fiancee, Hope, who comes from a very rich family. He has a fairly stable job. Overall, Zach lives a pretty much uneventful and uncomplicated life, one that is free from any major responsibilities. But within the next few days, Zach's life becomes more interesting.
First, Zach may have bladder cancer, after seeing that he's pissing blood and undergoing a series of tests including a very uncomfortable biopsy. (I cringed reading about this very descriptive part.) Second, he feels that he's not that in love with Hope anymore. He's falling more and more in love with Tamara, the widow of his other best friend, Rael, who died in a car accident. Third, his long-absent father, Norm, suddenly appears at his doorstep, making amends. Norm left his family almost 20 years ago. And let's just say that Zach, his two brothers, and their mother, Lela, aren't too pleased about this.
What happens in the novel as Zach learns to face these changes is so funny that you tend to forget how serious some of these problems appear to be. I think that's why Tropper is brilliant, and why he's my current favorite novelist. Despite the humorous scenes in Everything Changes, Tropper doesn't trivialize his themes. You feel that Zach is your troubled best friend and you just can't help but root for him and wish that everything turns out well. But this is a Tropper novel; there's no silver lining for every problem, which makes this novel a very pragmatic one.
What is it with Jonathan Tropper's novels that make them so addicting? Is it the wit? Is it the lovable but flawed characters? (Families, especially dysfunctional ones, are a major element in his novels.) Is it the hysterical scenarios that have been so graphically described? Is it the engaging narrative? It could be all of these. I do love the fact that Tropper's novels are all heartwarming. I think Tropper is our new John Irving. Everything Changes is one satisfying read. It is by turns serious, profound, and honest.
A fellow bibliophile introduced me to a new term -- lad lit. It's a genre of novels, such as those of Nick Hornby, that have a broad appeal among men. Everything Changes (and all of the novels of Tropper for that matter) may be considered lad lit. But women would still definitely find Everything Changes enjoyable as the novel can allow them to find out what men think when faced with unusual circumstances.
Read this book if:
- You want to sample lad lit.
- You find it difficult coping with unwanted changes.
- You just like a rollicking good read.