A Monk Jumped over a Wallby Jay Nussbaum
J.J. Spencer is one of the many hungry young lawyers eager to climb the corporate ladder to the great future awaiting him. With his first annual review approaching, J.J. is confident his keen work for the top Manhattan law firm he is employed by will be praised all the way to the bank. Until, that is, he gives in to a sudden surge of compassion for one of his clients… See more details below
J.J. Spencer is one of the many hungry young lawyers eager to climb the corporate ladder to the great future awaiting him. With his first annual review approaching, J.J. is confident his keen work for the top Manhattan law firm he is employed by will be praised all the way to the bank. Until, that is, he gives in to a sudden surge of compassion for one of his clients during a chance encounter at a diner. J.J. discovers how swiftly no good deed goes unpunished: the consequences of his generous impulse snowball and before he knows it, J.J. Spencer has been beaten bloody, arrested for drunk driving, and fired from his job.
A young associate at a white shoe New York law firm, J.J. Spencer finds himself with a morally repulsive client who has purchased a bundle of defaulting mortgages at 43 cents on the dollar, and is gleefully foreclosing and evicting people from their homes. When J.J. breaches attorney-client confidentiality to help the Eagans, a sadly duped Queens couple, his firm fires him, and a spiteful partner leads the charge to have him disbarred. Battling to salvage his career and the Eagans' house, J.J. recalls his childhood at the mercy of a violent, alcoholic father, as well as his dynamic law school days, where a legendary professor helped J.J. develop his ethics and sharp debating skills. Nussbaum (Blue Road to Atlantic) gives plenty of nuance to J.J., who knowingly allows his seduction by corporate law at the expense of his ideals. The Eagans' doltishness and a plot that hangs on the legal ins-and-outs of foreclosures will frustrate some readers, but J.J. is sympathetic, and with the mounting mortgage crisis, the story could not be more timely. (Nov.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
We have an abundance of novels and memoirs about high-powered attorneys who find themselves questioning the life choices they've made. This new novel from Nussbaum (Blue Road to Atlantis) is a particularly heartfelt, contemplative contribution to this genre. As a young attorney working at a powerful New York law firm, protagonist J.J. Spencer seems to have it all. He finds himself questioning the value of his work, however, when he participates in a foreclosure transaction that devastates a married couple. The remainder of the novel follows the development and resolution of what becomes for J.J. an existential crisis. Though there are some problems with plotting and character development, J.J. is a skillfully drawn protagonist whose interest in martial arts and Eastern philosophy uniquely equip him to handle this crisis. Most important, Nussbaum engages the complex moral questions this crisis precipitates with courage and integrity. A lawyer himself, Nussbaum also handles the novel's legal matters skillfully. Recommended for libraries with large fiction collections.
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I read this book after reading the first chapter through an online book club. It was very well written, the characters were well developed, and the story dealt with issues that everyone can relate to.