A Monk Jumped over a Wall

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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...
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Overview

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.
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Editorial Reviews

Heartland Reviews
The author uses flashbacks to tell an intriguing back-story of how the young lawyer got into this dilemma. He excels at developing relationships, using realistic dialog, and developing a feasible plot where lemonade gets made from the lemons which are thrown at the protagonist. The author obviously understands the pros and cons of law careers and the ethical decisions which rear their ugly heads along the way. The bottom line of this novel is, "Be true to yourself and your friends." We rated it five hearts.
—Bob Spear
Publishers Weekly

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
Library Journal

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.
—Patrick Sullivan

Kirkus Reviews
Nussbaum's meaningful look at the strength it takes to shed the person you thought you were to become the person you were meant to be. J.J. Spencer has just completed his first year as an associate at a prestigious New York law firm. He has the expensive suits, the nice apartment and the requisite attitude. On the surface, J.J. has accomplished everything he has set out to do, but a moment of compassion toward two strangers costs him dearly. The subsequent action chronicles J.J.'s demise and redemption when, having lost his cushy job, he is forced to re-examine his goals. Enrolling in law school straight after college (because, everyone agreed, it was "a good degree to have"), he's spent his life trying to please his mother, escape his abusive father and prevent his talented, though eccentric, younger brother from making the same mistakes. Weaving in and out of J.J.'s past, the plot finds strength in witty dialogue and exploration of J.J.'s relationships with family, friends and colleagues, all the while keeping a balance between tragedy and comedy. J.J.'s past is marked with warning signs: He rose to legal stardom under the tutelage of a famous professor whose misery foreshadows J.J.'s own, and he loved the right girl but picked another because she conformed to the life he felt pressured to have. Nussbaum (Blue Road to Atlantis, 2002) occasionally waxes sentimental, but effective elements, like J.J.'s diligent practice of karate in hopes of earning a black belt, work to illustrate his search for meaning. J.J.'s flaws inform his humanity, and he remains a character worth routing for, even as he falls. Ultimately, this is a comforting novel-not because readers have suddenly found their wayat its conclusion, but because they realize they are not alone in the search. Bittersweet and unflinchingly real.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592642014
  • Publisher: Toby Press LLC, The
  • Publication date: 11/1/2007
  • Pages: 374

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2008

    Enjoyable read with surprisng depth

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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