This Is Just Exactly Like You: A Novel

( 2 )

Overview

"Richly imagined, beautifully written, and completely absorbing. I found myself spellbound, turning pages well past my bedtime. What a fine, fine book." -Tim O'Brien

After Jack Lang impulsively buys the house directly across the street from his own, his wife, Beth, has finally had enough. She leaves him- and their six-year-old autistic son, Hendrick-for Jack's best friend, Terry Canavan. Jack tries telling everyone he's okay, but even he's not so sure. When Hendrick, who rarely ...

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This Is Just Exactly Like You: A Novel

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Overview

"Richly imagined, beautifully written, and completely absorbing. I found myself spellbound, turning pages well past my bedtime. What a fine, fine book." -Tim O'Brien

After Jack Lang impulsively buys the house directly across the street from his own, his wife, Beth, has finally had enough. She leaves him- and their six-year-old autistic son, Hendrick-for Jack's best friend, Terry Canavan. Jack tries telling everyone he's okay, but even he's not so sure. When Hendrick, who rarely talks, starts speaking in fluent Spanish, Jack knows he's in uncharted territory. But once Canavan's ex- girlfriend Rena turns up at his door to see how things are going, Jack begins to suspect the world could be far more complicated than he'd ever believed. Set against a landscape of defunct putt-putt courses and karaoke bars, parenthood and infidelity, This Is Just Exactly Like You is a wise and witty debut novel with captivating insights into marriage, autism, suburban fiasco, and life's occasional miracles.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his turgid debut, author Perry delves into the life of bland suburbanite Jack Lang after his wife, Beth, leaves him and their autistic six-year-old son, Hendrick, for Jack’s best friend, Terry, who has recently separated from girlfriend Rena (who happens to be Beth’s friend). When Rena discovers Beth is living with Terry, she immediately throws herself at Jack, who, having earlier impulsively purchased the house across the street, moves there with Rena and Hendrick, though Rena, bossy and needling from day one, is probably the least plausible therapeutic lay in history. Meanwhile, Hendrick begins to come out of his shell. Every 30 or so pages, Jack and Beth stalwartly refuse to discuss what is wrong between them: throughout their numerous confrontations, the exact reasons and circumstances for their separation are only vaguely sketched, and the reader feels cheated. By never knowing what went wrong, indifference can be the only reaction to their stabs at reconciliation, and if they did clear the air, the novel would have no dramatic necessity. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
A husband loses his way and tries to find his life's meaning in the wreckage. Writing teacher Perry (English/Elon Univ.) makes good on his short stories, which appear in publications like New Stories from the South, with a striking debut novel about a man whose responsibilities haven't yet overcome his ambitions. The narrative posits itself as being about an everyman hero, Jack Lang, the reluctant owner of a North Carolina mulching business and caring father to his six-year-old autistic son, Hendrick. Except that Jack is far from being every man, as he struggles to take in the bewildering creature his child has become and still believes that the impossible is doable. In fact, Jack's diversions-buying a second house the family doesn't need, for example-have driven his wife, Bethany, to move in with his best friend, Terry Canavan. "No good answer, like most other things," Perry writes. "He goes ahead with projects without planning them all the way through first. It makes her crazy. He knows this, does it anyway. Gets excited." Out of these tales of ordinary madness, Perry constructs a riveting familial drama. Jack is oddly detached emotionally, failing to strike out at his wife's infidelity other than making a mean-spirited drive through Terry's yard, for which he later apologizes. But the troubled trio soon becomes an even more dysfunctional quartet when Terry's estranged girlfriend Rena moves in with Jack, initiating a bizarrely civil case of partner swapping. "But we at least have to hate each other more if we're going to keep acting like this," Beth professes. "We at least have to act like regular lunatics." The domestic drama is far from the book's sole attraction, as Perry breathesglorious life into Hen, whose repetitive jabber-mimicking not only TV advertisements but also his parents' appalling banter-gives the novel a unique rhythm of its own. A charitable and bleakly funny portrait of the American dream gone off the rails.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143118602
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/29/2011
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,198,260
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Drew Perry holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina–Greensboro, and now teaches writing at Elon University in North Carolina. His short fiction has been published in Black Warrior Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and New Stories from the South. He lives with his wife in Greensboro, North Carolina.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 23, 2011

    Contemporary View of Marriage, family and Life...

    Very funny book- you can see what would drive her to leave, yet you don't agree with how she does it. You can sympathize with him while thinking he needs to change and do better. The characters are human- flaws, short-sightedness and all. My favorite book of the year!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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