Funny, well-observed, and compassionate, Exit Papers from Paradise tells the story of Isaac, a would-be medical surgeon trapped in a plumber’s life. After being relentlessly disparaged by his father and disappointed by his own life, Isaac has become a wry observer of his own failures, fixing his neighbors’ toilets while he dreams of a medical career that might have been. When a chance turn of events propels him from his Walter Mitty-esque dreaming to enroll at the University of Michigan, Isaac must take a hard look at the role he has played in his hapless, hilarious life to date. Jonathan Yen’s narration makes this witty, one-of-a-kind character real.
Frustrated 35-year-old plumber Isaac Sullivan believes he has both the intellect and skill to be a surgeon. Forced to take over his father's plumbing business straight out of high school, Isaac's dreams of attending the University of Michigan fell by the wayside. However, the unfortunate setback didn't stop him entirely. For the past decade, he has absorbed every medical textbook and journal available to him. For practical experience, Isaac performs surgeries on the wildlife around his house, preparing for the day he attends Michigan. Yet the years continue to pass and Isaac remains stuck in Paradise, Michigan, as a plumber. That is, until this year, when an event pushes him to apply as an undergraduate for the first time. Exit Papers from Paradise is about the gap between the person we are and the person we desperately want to be.
This has to be one of the funniest, quirkiest books about a funny, quirky character that I've ever read. Isaac is a plumber in Paradise, Michigan but he really wants to be a surgeon. After high school, he dutifully took over his father's plumbing business, but he's been dreaming about attending the University of Michigan as the first step toward becoming a surgeon. For many reasons, he's been afraid to actually apply to college, but he has been busy conducting surgery on animals, reading medical journals, and carrying on an intense internal dialogue. It's this internal dialogue that really helped me connect with Isaac, see him as more than just plain weird, care about his character, and care about what happens to him. My internal dialogue was screaming, “NO, NO, NO!” at the end, but I don't think Liam Card could have ended it any other way.
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