Thank you to Henry Holt & Co. and Netgalley for an early review copy of The Comedown by Rebekah Frumkin, which will publish April 17, 2018. All thoughts are my own.
From the publisher:
Scrappy, street smart drug dealer Reggie Marshall has never liked the simpering addict Leland Bloom-Mittwoch, which doesn’t stop Leland from looking up to Reggie with puppy-esque devotion. But when a drug deal goes dramatically, tragically wrong and a suitcase (which may or may not contain a quarter of a million dollars) disappears, the two men and their families become hopelessly entangled. It’s a mistake that sets in motion a series of events that are odd, captivating, suspenseful, and ultimately inevitable.
Both incendiary and earnest, The Comedown steadfastly catalogs the tangled messes the characters make of their lives, never losing sight of the beauty and power of each family member’s capacity for love, be it for money, drugs, or each other.
I’ll admit to struggling a bit with Rebekah Frumkin’s debut novel, The Comedown. Initially it was a bit slow, and I felt caught up in confusion over the characters. I had a hard time keeping everyone straight, especially when there were four characters with the same name; I resorted to drawing up a family tree, which was a huge help in the long run. You know how a writer can get so familiar with their own story that they forget how to explain it to their readers? It’s just become so clear to them that they assume everyone else is at the same level of clarity? I figure that’s what happened to Frumkin.
Once I got past the initial character confusion, it was relatively smooth sailing. Frumkin has that unique quality to her writing that makes you revisit paragraphs and offer up a resounding “yes.” The Comedown defines her as a promising new voice in literature and a skilled storyteller. It’s a decent debut effort though I can’t say I was particularly blown away, and I did struggle to finish, skimming the last few chapters.
Despite the lack of “wow” factor overall, there were many individual pieces of The Comedown that I admired tremendously, one of which being the timeline. Frumkin jumps around in time brilliantly; the book is a collection of character studies, and bits and pieces are gradually revealed with each character to create the bigger story. The Comedown also features some nice commentary on police brutality; it’s subtle but still very much there.
In general, Rebekah Frumkin’s debut is bold and refreshing, a slow burn character study written with mesmerizing prose. Fans of family sagas will love The Comedown.
Note: The Comedown contains trigger warnings for suicide and drugs.