Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Smash-Up by Ali Benjamin

Happy Book Birthday to Ali Benjamin whose adult debut, The Smash-Up, hits shelves today!

Ever since the election, Ethan and Zo's lives have been off kilter. 

Once upon a time, Ethan was part of a guerrilla marketing company that made a pretty big name for itself. But he sold his shares and the couple moved to a small town to start a family. 

Zo is a filmmaker whose recent involvement with an activism group has commanded all of her attention. As such, Ethan is feeling disconnected and uncertain where their relationship is heading. 

As it turns out, their lives are on a bit of a collision course with current events. How everything will shake out is the question. 

I'm going to be totally honest and say that if the most recent election hadn't played out as it did, this book would have been a painful read!

The Smash-Up is set in 2018, right smack dab in the middle of #MeToo, Kavanaugh's appointment to the Supreme Court, and, of course, Trump's presidency. 

When we meet Ethan and Zo, Ethan's former business partner has called him to let him know that he's been accused of sexual harassment. This thread continues through the book, with Ethan—who is basically a decent guy—having to make some pretty difficult decisions. 

These decisions involve his livelihood, his relationship, his daughter, and his life in general. And the book actually begins towards the end, so the reader knows that things have been turned upside down. What we don't know is how or why. 

This book was recommended to me by our local Random House rep and I am so glad that she brought it to my attention. I started on a regular evening but found that it was actually a pretty insomnia-heavy night. Fortunately, I was so invested in Ethan's story (I admit, I much preferred him over Zo!), that I read through the wee hours and ended up finishing this in one day. 

I am not typically someone who reads a lot of truly character-driven novels. As evidenced by the books I tend to review, I read a lot of genre fiction that is generally majority plot driven. Just my personal preference.

The Smash-Up is smart. And the characters are so brilliantly drawn through Benjamin's narrative that I can't help but think there are things about their story that will resonate with just about any reader. 

For some, the story may still be too soon and the events that take place in the background too fresh in peoples' minds. But I think for many, there will be so many things they can relate to and empathize with as well. And this was definitely the case with me!

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

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