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Fleishman Is in Trouble

A Novel
Written by: Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Narrated by: Allyson Ryan
Length: 14 hrs and 34 mins
4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

“Just the sort of thing that Philip Roth or John Updike might have produced in their prime (except, of course, that the author understands women).” (Elizabeth Gilbert)

“This is a remarkable debut from one of the most distinctive writers around.” (Tom Perrotta)

A finely observed, timely exploration of marriage, divorce, and the bewildering dynamics of ambition from one of the most exciting writers working today.

Toby Fleishman thought he knew what to expect when he and his wife of almost 15 years separated: weekends and every other holiday with the kids, some residual bitterness, the occasional moment of tension in their co-parenting negotiations. He could not have predicted that one day, in the middle of his summer of sexual emancipation, Rachel would just drop their two children off at his place and simply not return. He had been working so hard to find equilibrium in his single life. The winds of his optimism, long dormant, had finally begun to pick up. Now this.  

As Toby tries to figure out where Rachel went, all while juggling his patients at the hospital, his never-ending parental duties, and his new app-assisted sexual popularity, his tidy narrative of the spurned husband with the too-ambitious wife is his sole consolation. But if Toby ever wants to truly understand what happened to Rachel and what happened to his marriage, he is going to have to consider that he might not have seen things all that clearly in the first place. 

A searing, utterly unvarnished debut, Fleishman Is in Trouble is an insightful, unsettling, often hilarious exploration of a culture trying to navigate the fault lines of an institution that has proven to be worthy of our great wariness and our great hope. 

Advance praise for Fleishman Is in Trouble:

“Blisteringly funny, feverishly smart, heartbreaking, and true, Fleishman Is in Trouble is an essential read for anyone who’s wondered how to navigate loving (and hating) the people we choose.” (Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest

“From its opening pages, Fleishman Is in Trouble is shrewdly observed, brimming with wisdom, and utterly of this moment. Not until its explosive final pages are you fully aware of its cunning ferocity. Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s debut is that rare and delicious treat: a page-turner with heft.”(Maria Semple)

©2019 Taffy Brodesser-Akner (P)2019 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“This glorious debut has the humor of Maria Semple, the heart of Meg Wolitzer, the lustiness of Philip Roth, and a voice that is pure. It’s wild and wonderful and goes in so many directions, each with profundity - my favorite thing that novels can do. How does one's favorite journalist become one's new favorite novelist? With this book.” (Emma Straub)

“This portrait of modern love and marriage is blisteringly funny, searingly accurate, wincingly painful, and - ultimately - both heartbreaking and humane. Fleishman Is in Trouble reminds me of the great novels of the 1960s and 1970s - just the sort of thing that Philip Roth or John Updike might have produced in their prime (except, of course, that the author understands women). Taffy Brodesser-Akner can write the pants off any novelist out there. She’s a star, and this book is a work of utter perfection.” (Elizabeth Gilbert)

"Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s sharp debut novel is packed with humor and heart. In it, the titular trouble begins when Toby Fleishman realizes that Rachel - his wife of 15 years, from whom he’s now separated - is missing. Where has she gone, and why? This book will have you racing through the pages to find the answers.” (Southern Living)

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Madeleine
  • 2019-06-24

How Disappointing

I started this book optimistic since the excerpt that was featured on The Cut was very interesting. But with each passing section I found the charters less and less likable. Toby reveals himself to but such an asshole that I had to stop the book multiple times. Maybe him being “flawed” was the point of the book, but in other novels when a charter is that unlikable there is usually one trait or relatable thing that keeps you around...not here.

Overall, the book is a contrived narrative on what a middle aged woman thinks people who get divorced feel, while trying to make “deep” charters. I was very disappointed, and feel like I just wasted all the time I invested. Don’t waste your time or money, just think about how people going through a midlife crisis act and mix in a little divorce.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • patty15 in OC
  • Brea, CA USA
  • 2019-06-26

Tedious

Unlikable characters, long repetitive sentences, disgusting midlife behaviors. For those reviewers who found this "genious," good for you for finding value that completely eluded me.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Amy A
  • 2019-07-08

14 hours I can't get back

Truly such a waste of time. These characters were self-involved, whiny and unsympathetic. The book essentially went nowhere. I kept waiting for something substantive, but there was nothing.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Molly
  • 2019-06-28

Wow, much darker than expected

I am a Taffy Brodesser-Akner fan and had eager anticipated this book. In the beginning, it exceeded all expectations— it was the type of book I did more housework so I could keep listening to. But then...it went from funny to repetitive to depressing to annoying. Maybe I, a 40-something married woman, am not the intended audience. Or maybe I couldn’t emphasize with the characters because I don’t live in Manhattan and their lives seemed so...self-absorbed. At any rate, in the end it came off as a shallow, whiny, bitter repeat of all the cliches of midlife crises and upper middle class angst.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Bioarches
  • 2019-06-26

SO BAD

A woman narrating a poorly written book about a guy and his “boners?” The writing is just awful. What was the publisher thinking? I stopped the book 40 minutes in and returned it to Audible.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Paige
  • 2019-07-05

Not uplifting but still complex

Despite this being listed in the comedy section, I did not find myself laughing at this book. For starters the narrator spends most of the book speaking like an angsty, sarcastic teen which took quite a bit to get used to. The writing itself was very repetitive.

Now onto the good stuff:
It takes a long time for this book to reveal what it’s about. It takes an unapologetic look at what it’s like for a women to be successful and how that impacts society and marriages. I think it speaks to some greater truths that take a while to unfold and when they are it’s in a delicate and artful manor.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Gml
  • 2019-07-15

This is my new favorite book.

I loved this book so much. The writing was so beautiful and powerful. The author has a way of describing things that makes you feel like you understand and are understood. I love her forever.

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  • Joanne
  • 2019-07-15

Fabulous. Maybe brilliant.

Okay so there is sexual content in this book. You’ve been warned. But this book is funny, heart breaking, scary, a family drama that’s a page turner even though there is no violence. This book might be brilliant. Enjoy.

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  • Ellen
  • 2019-07-15

Would give it 10 stars if I could!

I haven’t enjoyed reading an author this much since Nora Ephron. I’ve looked forward to Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s insightful pieces and profiles for years, and she totally nails it with her first novel. The voice is unique and universal all at once. The novel is clever and true, hilarious, poignant and so, so satisfying. Although I wanted to devour it In one weekend, I had to deliberately slow myself down to savor every perfect word. Now what am I going to do until she writes another one?? Guess I’ll just have to listen to this one again!
PS, the narrator isn’t the best...her voice is just not up to par with the writing. But with a debut this strong, I don’t think that will remain a problem for long.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-07-14

Six stars possible?

A bracing listen for anyone who has ever: been in love, fallen out of love, been confused by parenthood, adulthood, marriage and the single life. The author gives the narrator a text to shade and nuance. May we get a sixth star for rating? This review actually written by Nancy Spiller's husband, Tom, who got to the file first.