A review copy of this book was provided by St Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.
This might be one of the most unique books I’ve read ever. It’s told in an unconventional format: it’s told entirely in the form of lists that the narrator, Daniel, writes. While the format was entirely unique, it was difficult to really get immersed in the story than a traditional novel. Once I was able to, it was a fun, quick read with an interesting story and some underdeveloped characters.
Daniel Mayrock’s life is at a crossroads. He knows the following to be true:
1. He loves his wife Jill… more than anything.
2. He only regrets quitting his job and opening a bookshop a little (maybe more than a little)
3. Jill is ready to have a baby.
4. The bookshop isn’t doing well. Financial crisis is imminent. Dan doesn’t know how to fix it.
5. Dan hasn’t told Jill about their financial trouble.
6. Then Jill gets pregnant.
This heartfelt story is about the lengths one man will go to and the risks he will take to save his family. But Dan doesn’t just want to save his failing bookstore and his family’s finances:
1. Dan wants to do something special.
2. He’s a man who is tired of feeling ordinary.
3. He’s sick of feeling like a failure.
4. He doesn’t want to live in the shadow of his wife’s deceased first husband.
Dan is also an obsessive list maker; his story unfolds entirely in his lists, which are brimming with Dan’s hilarious sense of humor, unique world-view, and deeply personal thoughts. When read in full, his lists paint a picture of a man struggling to be a man, a man who has reached a point where he’s willing to do anything for the love (and soon-to-be new love) of his life.
This book is a deceptively quick read, especially once you get used to the format. Will I read another book in this format? Probably not. Writing an entire novel in the form of lists is definitely a gimmick – one that will likely be retired after this book. It’s a jarring format for sure – it takes a while to establish what is happening in Daniel’s life and get truly invested in the story. Once you are immersed in Daniel’s story, the plot moves quickly – and is fairly unpredictable and unexpected. Honestly, I didn’t see the ending coming, and by the end I completely empathized with his situation and couldn’t stop flipping the pages to see how it all ended.
Daniel comes off as a little pompous and arrogant sometimes, but never to the point that he can’t redeem himself. After all, he’s a man under immense stress: his business is failing and his wife is unaware. His character progression was fascinating – as he gets more and more desperate, he goes to more and more crazy lengths to hide his situation from his wife. Unfortunately, Daniel is the only character to get much definition. He’s so focused on his own issues that other characters are only mentioned as the pertain to his current struggles – they don’t go much deeper than surface level traits and they didn’t have any subplots. This book is basically the equivalent of a one man play.
I can honestly say I’ve never read a book like this before, both in terms of format and plot. If you’re looking for something unusual to spice up your reading, this is the book for you. It’s unusual, unexpected, and pretty darn fun to read. Twenty-One Truths About Love would make a great break between heavier books or as a beach read. 4/5