The Book of Joe

A Novel
Narrated by: Scott Brick
Length: 10 hrs and 3 mins
4.2 out of 5 stars (651 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Right after high school, Joe Goffman left sleepy Bush Falls, Connecticut, and never looked back. Then he wrote a novel savaging everything in town, a novel that became a national best seller and a huge hit movie. Fifteen years later, Joe is struggling to avoid the sophomore slump with his next novel when he gets a call: his father's had a stroke, so it's back to Bush Falls for the town's most famous pariah. 

His brother avoids him, his former classmates beat him up, and the members of the book club just hurl their copies of Bush Falls at his house. But with the help of some old friends, Joe discovers that coming home isn't all bad - and that maybe the best things in life are second chances. 

Fans of Nick Hornby and Jennifer Weiner will love this book, by turns howling funny, fiercely intelligent, and achingly poignant. As evidenced by The Book of Joe's success in both the foreign and movie markets, Jonathan Tropper has created a compelling, incredibly resonant story. 

©2004 Jonathan Tropper (P)2004 Books on Tape, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A beautifully crafted book of enormous heart, humility, wit, honesty, and vulnerability. You want to call your friends at 3 a.m. and read whole passages out loud. You want to press it into the hands of strangers. You cannot stop thinking about it because it has rearranged your very molecules. You know that kind of book? This is that kind of book. The Book of Joe is utterly magnificent. I wish I'd written it myself. "(Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors)

"The Book of Joe is an elegiac, wickedly observant look at a small town and its secrets. In Jonathan Tropper's highly readable novel, the problem isn't that you can't go home again, it's that eventually you have to, whether you like it or not." (Tom Perrotta, author of Election and Joe College

"[Tropper] does it with wit, insight, and a lot of fun cultural references." (Booklist

What listeners say about The Book of Joe

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    27
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Performance
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Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 3 Stars
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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Glad I took a chance

I wasn't really sure what to expect when I chose this title - I actually was drawn to it initatilly because Scott Brick is the reader and he has always done a good job on other books I've listened to. This is no exception - his reading brings the book alive.
But I also found myself fully engaged in the story and characters - I laughed out loud too many time to count, and felt moved to tears at other times. Throughout the reading I tried imagining Joe, and I could see John Cusack playing him if it was a movie - kind of a quirky smart aleck but trying to do the right thing.
There is one unfortunate sexual scene that I thought was unnecessary and unrealistic - probably what a previous reviewer meant when she described this as a boy's book. But it was just one scene and not enough to condemn the whole story. Ultimately I'm glad I took the chance on this book.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Sarcasm Reigns Supreme

What did you love best about The Book of Joe?

I enjoyed the author's sarcastic tone on the journey through Joe's story, laughing out loud and crying at the end. I felt the author turned some stereotypes upside down. It was a thrilling ride.

What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

The narrator embodied the main character perfectly. His voice sounded sardonic, bemused, pleased with himself, and sympathetic at times. Good match.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. The book gave me cause to need to stop and process my emotions. I did enjoy listening for long periods of time.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Sorry to see it end

Jonathan Tropper’s ability to make you feel like his best friend is what makes his books so enjoyable. His writing is easy, believable and natural.

The protagonist Joe Goffman had a difficult time in high school. He was seen as a loser and his friends were no better. There were three important people in his life back then, Carly, the girl he loved, Wayne and Sammy, his two best friends who went through their own hell. Joe’s tumultuous high school years left him angry and bitter.

After high school, he chose to leave his small town of Bush Falls. More as a cathartic exercise with no expectations, Joe wrote a book dissing every one who ever crossed him back home. Never in his wildest dreams did he think his book would become a best seller.
Then came the call. His father had a stroke and after 15 years Joe would have to return home and face all the people he had maligned so publicly, and each one wanted a piece of him.

Tropper managed to create believable, rich characters. Disguised by humor, Tropper deals with difficult topics such as bullying, coming out, aids, family relationships and the frustrations and scars of growing up as the underdog.

The Book of Joe was one of those stories I was sorry to see end. Looks like there is a film in development too.

As usual, Scott Brick does a stellar job of reading.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful read! Don't pass it by!

Couldn't put it down--characters you care about--beautifully written--hilarious and sad. It is at the top of my list of reccommended books.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Well-worth listening to

The themes of acceptance, responsibility, and letting go of the past are more related to lifestage than gender, and I found this a well-written treatment of them. I found myself unusally touched by dreadfully painful things that happen to the characters, particularly the young ones. The characters are well drawn, and rarely one-dimensional. All in all, I found it an absorbing listen with a nice balance of humor and poignancy.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fun, great plot, well presented

I LOVED this audiobook and have listened to it many times. Well reminiscent for those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s, with Springsteen references an added bonus -- and for those of us still trying to "grow up" in various ways. The storyline, however, is reflective of things still going on today and still very pertinent. Very well presented, also. Did not find it shallow as suggested by a previous reviewer, although can see where that idea might grab one --but this is a character who is trying to be shallow to aid living in denial, but just can't carry it off because the truth keeps staring him down. Great on all points.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Only get the unabridged!

If you are offended by naughty language, hot sex or real people with real pain, this isn't the book for you. But for the rest of us, this is one of the best books of all time. However, it is very important to get the unabridged version. I have heard both and the unabridged beats the abridged every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved this book

Every once in a while I come across a book I wish I had written. This is one of those books. The story is so engaging; the characters are memorable and the writing is just plain great. Add to that the great narration- this is a winner.I recommended this book to several of my friends, all of whom agreed with me. Lest you think this is a "guy's" book or the male version of "chick-lit", let me add that I am female and 20 years older than the characters in the book. I subsequently listened to "Everything Changes" also great. And read Plan B, Tropper's first book. I am just delighted to find such a fresh new talent at the beginning of his writing career and hope there are many more novels in his future.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Shallow and predictable

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Not much. This book was heavy-handed and clumsy throughout. From the summary description, I expected a tragic-comedy. All I got was boredom.

What was most disappointing about Jonathan Tropper’s story?

I suppose I was expecting something a little lighter. A little more levity and wittier dialogue could have done this book a world of good.

What didn’t you like about Scott Brick’s performance?

While I've never been a big fan of Scott Brick, his solemnity can sometimes add the proper nuance to the right type of book; this wasn't the right type of book. He's much more suited to science fiction, in my opinion. Put him in present-day America and he drowns everything in melodrama. Again, I'm not his biggest fan.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment, I suppose. By the end of the third hour, I knew what was going to happen.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book

Possibly good story, but the writing gets in the way. Too much self-indulgent intellectualism for me to make it through. Even though I was curious about the ending, I quit halfway through. Good reader, but doesn't make up for problematic writing.

2 people found this helpful