Reviews for Man Alive!

Booklist Reviews 2013 July #1
Owen Lerner, on his annual beach vacation with his wife, twin sons, and teenage daughter, is feeding quarters into a parking meter when he is struck by lightning ("He is white-hot as well as deeply quenched by the singed, syrupy fluid of his surround"). The randomness of the event and the sudden glimpse of mortality throw the Lerner family into a tizzy, and their lovely, sheltered life is suddenly cracked wide open. Will and Ricky, college juniors, are completely waylaid, with Will addicted to pills and casual sex, while Ricky is enmeshed in an unhealthy relationship with his professor and her husband. Meanwhile, younger sister Brooke becomes involved with an abusive boyfriend, and their mother, Toni, feels as if the husband she knows and loves has disappeared, as Owen, once a respected child psychiatrist, becomes obsessed with all things barbecue. Zuravleff (The Bowl Is Already Broken, 2005) is an exuberant writer with a sharp sense of humor, and if Owen's recovery is a bit too protracted, her satiric jabs (at Whole Foods, among other targets) and joyful wordplay offer plenty to savor. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 May #1
A lightning strike skews the trajectory of a family. The opening of Zuravleff's second novel reads like a case history straight out of the annals of Oliver Sacks. Owen, a psychiatrist who specializes in pharmacological solutions to childhood neuropathologies ranging from ADHD to Asperger's, is feeding a parking meter with quarters when he's struck by lightning. His burns and nerve damage will heal with time, but the most intractable effect Owen suffers, besides a tendency to blurt uncomfortable truths, is a sudden and unprecedented passion for all things barbecue. Wife Toni, a professional recruiter of university presidents, becomes Owen's full-time caregiver, which thoroughly upends her hitherto upscale Washington, D.C., suburban routine. The impact is felt by their children, twins Will and Ricky, juniors, respectively, at Penn and Duke, and teenage daughter Brooke, a talented gymnast. Will, addicted to pills and casual hookups, comes even more unglued when his prized 10-speed is trashed by marauding drunken frat boys. Ricky, a "math and myth geek," is involved in an unhealthy flirtation with a charismatic professor and her husband. Brooke, whose vocabulary prowess almost equals her skill on the balance beam, fully indulges Zuravleff's penchant for variegated and ornate phraseology. Since her parents have been so preoccupied, Brooke has been unwilling to confess to them that her boyfriend has crossed a line from jealous to controlling and abusive. Toni is conflicted about her new role, in part since she suspects (correctly) that Owen is fantasizing about Will's girlfriend, Kyra, and also due to her own close brush with adultery. The Thanksgiving feast, which Owen will prepare in his newly dug backyard pit, may be the occasion for the family itself to tumble into a much deeper hole. Although the progress of domestic entropy is minutely charted, Owen's affliction, obviously intended as the infernal engine of family dysfunction, ultimately seems beside the point. This worthy attempt to dramatize the extent to which randomness rules our lives is subverted by aimless storytelling. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 September #1

Pediatric psychiatrist Owen Lerner is struck by lightning on the last day of his summer vacation. He survives the ordeal, but the event has far-reaching effects for both Owen and his family. During his recovery, Owen devotes his time to the art of barbeque, gets a tattoo, and falls off of the roof of his house. Twenty-one-year-old twins Ricky and Will, 16-year-old Brooke, and wife Toni grapple with his choices, their guilt and anger, and the what-ifs that plague them. VERDICT Zuravleff (The Bowl Is Already Broken), recipient of the American Academy's Rosenthal Award and the James Jones First Novel Award, creates a family whose members are forced to come to terms with mortality, reality, love, and their place in the family structure. She captures both the humor and pain of family life and the fluid nature of its alliances. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/13.]--Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 June #1

"What a fragile ecosystem a family is." Zuravleff's (The Bowl Is Already Broken) novel is a half-wacky, half-sobering portrait of a family headed off the rails. When child psychiatrist Dr. Owen Lerner is struck by lightning at a parking meter, the fallout affects the other Lerners--21-year-old twins Ricky and Will, their 16-year-old sister Brooke, and mom Toni--in more ways than one. As Owen slowly recovers, instead of treating his patients and acting normal, he nurses newfound obsessions with grilling and raising chickens, both of which make his family more unhinged. The boys latch onto unhealthy diversions--for Will, it's drugs and booze; Ricky develops a quixotic crush on his professor and her husband--while Brooke grows closer to her domineering boyfriend. When faced with Owen's antics (like a new tattoo that will mark him as "belonging to the lightning"), it's all Toni can do to keep from leaving the marriage. At times, Owen's kooky predicament threatens to overpower other subplots, especially those that arguably warrant more attention. But the question throughout remains: which Lerner is the sanest one? Agent: Sarah Burnes, Gernert Company. (Sept. 3)

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