Book summary: This Book Will Save Your Life

2006 BY A.M. HOMES

Since her debut in 1989, A. M. Homes has been among the boldest and most original voices of her generation, acclaimed for the psychological accuracy and unnerving emotional intensity of her storytelling. Her keen ability to explore how extraordinary the ordinary can be is at the heart of her touching and funny new novel, her first in six years.
Richard Novak is a modern-day Everyman, a middle-aged divorcé trading stocks out of his home. He has done such a good job getting his life under control that he needs no one- except his trainer, nutritionist, and housekeeper. He is functionally dead and doesn't even notice until two incidents-an attack of intense pain that lands him in the emergency room, and the discovery of an expanding sinkhole outside his house-conspire to hurl him back into the world. On his way home from the hospital, Richard forms the first of many new relationships: He meets Anhil, the doughnut shop owner, an immigrant who dreams big. He finds a weeping housewife in the produce section of the supermarket, helps save a horse that has fallen into the sinkhole, daringly rescues a woman from the trunk of her kidnapper's car, and, after the sinkhole claims his house and he has to relocate to a Malibu rental, he befriends a reluctant counterculture icon. In the end, Richard is also brought back in closer touch with his family-his aging parents, his brilliant brother, the beloved ex-wife whom he still desires, and finally, before the story's breathtaking finale, with his estranged son Ben.

The promised land of Los Angeles-a surreal city of earthquakes, wildfires, mudslides, and feral Chihuahuas-is also very much a character in This Book Will Save Your Life. A vivid, revealing novel about compassion, transformation, and what can happen if you are willing to lose yourself and open up to the world around you, it should significantly broaden Homes's already substantial audience.

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