Fun & Games
David Michael Slater
Library Tales Publishing (2013)
Reviewed by Nacoy Davis for Reader Views (12/13)
“Fun & Games” by David Michael Slater is the story of one young man’s transition into adulthood. As he ages, he faces major life changes and obstacles including questioning his religion, death, alcoholism, and sex. Jonathon Schwartz is a young man trying to figure out himself as well as his family. A visit to his house from his school’s rabbi contributes to the disassembling of his father’s psyche and, in turn, his family and any structure they thought they had. As Jon and his sisters grow up they encounter things that threaten to tear their family apart. It has to be said that this family is already on the verge of being dysfunctional with its physiologically unstable father, manipulative older sister, alcoholic mom, teasing second sister, and publicly insensitive grandmother. Jon grows up in a state of confusion as he learns to handle life’s many obstacles. Even with his close buddies around him, Jon still finds himself in a circle of scheming and secretive people using him like a pawn in a deceptive game of chess.
I really enjoyed this book; it was full of jokes and wacky family situations. If the author was trying to paint a picture of a family that is hanging together by a thread and can fall apart at any moment, but manages to hold on for dear life and succeed, he did a great job. I was completely engulfed in this book and found it hard to put down. It was full of gossip, drama, and family secrets: the perfect recipe for a day time soap opera. One thing I really enjoyed about the book is its touch on religion. The family is Jewish and has grandparents that have survived the holocaust. This book was able to touch both subjects without being overbearing. The main character’s search for clarity in his religion is a great asset to the book as it really helps to uncover the reasons why he finds himself in so many predicaments. The character is unbelievably naïve to the things around him and it is almost frustrating to read the way he is being manipulated by those closest to him, including his friends. When Jon enters college and is no longer under the thumb of his family, or so the reader thinks, it is very obvious that he is completely unaware of how to handle himself in social situations. Lucky for him though this comes off as him being cool, calm, and collected to those around him. The characters in this book are some of the most extreme characters I’ve encountered in a book from Jon’s complete ignorance to Olivia’s offensively good looks, and Nadia’s overwhelming brainpower and conniving ways, it is easy to see why this book was so hard to put down. It was a mess! But in a good way, the kind we like to watch on our reality T.V. shows.
“Fun & Games” by David Michael Slater is a book so full of secrets, calculated plans, and dishonesty that it will leave you saying, “no way, when did this happen?” It will hold you captivated until the end as you try to unravel this family’s mysterious and compelling history.