Title: The Reason You’re Alive by Matthew Quick
Publisher: 240 pages
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 240 pages
Book Rating: B
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
The New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook offers a timely novel featuring his most fascinating character yet, a Vietnam vet embarking on a quixotic crusade to track down his nemesis from the war.
After sixty-eight-year-old David Granger crashes his BMW, medical tests reveal a brain tumor that he readily attributes to his wartime Agent Orange exposure. He wakes up from surgery repeating a name no one in his civilian life has ever heard—that of a Native American soldier whom he was once ordered to discipline. David decides to return something precious he long ago stole from the man he now calls Clayton Fire Bear. It may be the only way to find closure in a world increasingly at odds with the one he served to protect. It may also help him to finally recover from his wife’s untimely demise.
As David confronts his past to salvage his present, a poignant portrait emerges: that of an opinionated and good-hearted American patriot fighting like hell to stay true to his red, white, and blue heart, even as the country he loves rapidly changes in ways he doesn’t always like or understand. Hanging in the balance are Granger’s distant art-dealing son, Hank; his adoring seven-year-old granddaughter, Ella; and his best friend, Sue, a Vietnamese American who respects David’s fearless sincerity.
Through the controversial, wrenching, and wildly honest David Granger, Matthew Quick offers a no-nonsense but ultimately hopeful view of America’s polarized psyche. By turns irascible and hilarious, insightful and inconvenient, David is a complex, wounded, honorable, and loving man. The Reason You’re Alive examines how the secrets and debts we carry from our past define us; it also challenges us to look beyond our own prejudices and search for the good in us all.
The Reason You’re Alive by Matthew Quick is a poignant and humorous novel about a politically incorrect Vietnam veteran’s attempts to come to terms with the traumatic experiences that continue to haunt him.
David Granger is a sixty-eight year old vet who is recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumor. A right-wing conservative with a liberal son, David never hesitates to speak his mind nor does he make any attempt to hide his prejudices or temper his opinions. He is surprisingly likable and sympathetic despite his caustic comments and somewhat cantankerous demeanor. His disdain for his only son Hank and his intense dislike of his daughter-in-law in no way diminish his love and adoration of his seven-year old granddaughter Ella. David is a surprisingly multi-dimensional man with delightfully unexpected friendships and a willingness to lend a helping hand to those who are less fortunate and willing to work hard.
In the aftermath of his brain surgery, David becomes somewhat fixated on an incident that occurred while he was in country during the Vietnam War. Deeply troubled by his actions all these years later, David cannot forget what he did to fellow soldier, Clayton Fire Bear. Terrified of what might happen to him should he locate Clayton, David nonetheless allows a good friend to tack down his nemesis. Will he follow through with the plan to meet with Clayton? Will confronting his demons finally help David make peace with the horrors that continue to haunt him?
With a diverse cast of characters and a thought-provoking storyline, The Reason You’re Alive by Matthew Quick is an absolutely compelling novel. David can be unapologetically offensive and abrasive yet, at the same time, he is incredibly kind, compassionate and patriotic. A laugh out loud funny and deeply affecting story of redemption that is ultimately quite uplifting.