Once upon a time, Drew Silver was living the dream–a member of a rock band with a hit single who went home each night to a wife he loved and a daughter he adored. Fast forward a couple of years and the band was a one-hit wonder, Drew and his wife are divorced and he’s estranged from his daughter. Living in a by the week hotel with a lot of other divorced men, the highlights of Silver’s week are college co-eds in bikinis coming to lay by the hotel pool and Silver heading to a local independent bookstore to listen to a singer-songwriter he has a crush on but can’t quite work up the nerve to talk to her or even ask her name.
When Silver finds out he’s got a heart condition that could kill him at any time, he opts not to have surgery but instead to spend his remaining time on Earth trying to a better man, son and father. That task won’t be easy with his ex-wife marrying a doctor and his daughter telling him she’s pregnant. As Silver’s family tries to understand his decision and talk him into the surgery, Silver ponders his life as he passively attempt suicide.
Following the trail blazed by Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper once again mines the depths of flawed men and the people who love them. With One Last Thing Before I Go Tropper expands the circle of people who love these flawed protagonists from romantic partners to the entire family and the novel is richer for it. As Silver tries to be a better man to those he loves in what could be his final days, he has successes and failures along the way. Tropper writes some of best rounded and most human characters in fiction today and this novel is richer for it.
At times you’ll love Silver, at times you’ll shake your head and sigh as he can’t overcome himself.
As with his previous best-selling novel, This Is Where I Leave You, Tropper’s latest is compulsively readable and over far too soon. Like life, Tropper’s story doesn’t necessarily have a neatly packaged ending, but the stopping point for the novel makes perfect sense in terms of the characters. Tropper is wise enough to allow readers to fill in some blanks on the novel and to treat his audience and characters with dignity and respect. It’s a novel that’s over far too soon, but one I came away completely satisfied for the reading experience.