C.J. Neubauer’s family was dysfunctional long before his mother walked out. At eight, he was just too young to realize it. Now 32, he has spent his entire adult life estranged from the people who should mean the most to him. But when his father kills himself, C.J. is thrust right back into the multi-fronted battle he escaped upon graduating college ten years ago.
Almost immediately upon his return home, long-smoldering emotional brush fires flare up with his older brother, sister, and mother–who curiously seems to be the only one upset by his father’s death. Sifting through his dad’s belongings, C.J. uncovers one secret after the next, revealing how little he really understood his parents–and himself.
Alternately heartfelt and laugh-out-loud funny, this darkly comic family drama will appeal to fans of Jonathan Tropper and Matthew Norman.
Sorry I Wasn’t What You Needed is a poignant story about growing up, coming home, and the true meaning of family.
In the beginning, I didn’t think I would care much for this book. It seemed like one of the über postmodern, existential stories common to contemporary literature and I feared it wouldn’t have good resolution.
Luckily, I was wrong. C.J., the protagonist, is completely unlikeable in the beginning, an unambitious bum trapped in a horrible relationship he’s too lazy to end. His cynicism is maddening and he doesn’t seem to care about anyone or anything but himself. But as the story progresses and he becomes reacquainted with his friends and family back home, C.J. realizes how selfish and one-sided his memories are. At story’s end, he’s transformed into someone I’m proud of, someone I would like to be friends with. I think he has a bright future ahead of him.
The only reasons I give this book four stars rather than five: there were points when the story dragged, and others where there was entirely too much profanity. I’m not really offended by language, but when every other sentence contains an F bomb, it’s a little much.
I would definitely recommend for mature audiences.
I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley on exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
James Bailey is the author of The Greatest Show on Dirt (2012), Nine Bucks a Pound (2014), and Sorry I Wasn’t What You Needed (2015). He grew up in Seattle, spent most of the 1990s in North Carolina, and has since settled in Rochester, N.Y., where he lives with his wife and super-hero obsessed son.