I did not think that this book could make me cry as much as it did. Yet, it makes for a perfect Summer read too. I did not even expect to cry when I heard about it—I saw it as a humorous book more than anything. There are great moments to laugh about, though. In the end, the novel was a combination of The Rosie Project meeting The Art of Hearing Heartbeats. I also finished it within three days. I find Matthew Quick has the knack of pulling at your heartstrings just as much as John Green does. As a reader, you automatically sympathize with the main characters and hope that everything turns out right in the end.
Bartholomew Neil is 39 and has just lost his mother to cancer. That in itself is sad but what is really quite troublesome is how he is a recluse—he never had any job or friends, besides the Irish priest from his congregation (Father McNamee). Things take a turn when, after the funeral, Bartholomew finds a signed letter by Richard Gere in his mom’s underwear drawer. While his mom was deteriorating from the tumor in her head, she would call her son “Richard” many times and Bartholomew connects this phenomenon to the letter she received and the fact that Richard Gere was her favorite actor.
So begins a one-sided relationship, where Bartholomew writes to Richard and tells the actor about how his life is going. We learn that he has a therapist, Wendy, who is much younger than him and who is in an abusive relationship. We are also told that he has a major crush on the “Girlbrarian” at his local library, whom he one day hopes to ask out.
When Father McNamee renounces his ties to priesthood and moves in with Bartholomew, that is also the time that Bartholomew decides to go to group therapy and meets a future friend, Max—who happens to be the Girlbrarian’s brother.
Although there are many fun and silly moments in the story, there is a deeper philosophy weaved throughout the book. Bartholomew calls it synchronicity—when things happen almost by coincidence. He tries to follow his mother’s view of life and her motto: “The Good Luck of Right Now”, which explains how if one is having a bad day, it is only to give someone else a good one. The idea of balance to create harmony is explained more specifically in one chapter, which is where I cried a river of tears.
It is through the lovable misfits in the novel that the message is revealed: it is good to be different and it takes all walks of life to make life interesting. Everyone has a place—even Bartholomew and his newfound friends and everyone has the right to be respected. I fell in love with the quirkiness of the book and every character that Bartholomew meets.
What was even more special to me was the mention of Ocean City (where I have had wonderful vacations), Saint Joseph’s Oratory (where I had childhood fantasies about getting married there!), Montreal in general (I am from here), Ottawa’s cat Parliament (where I remember going to visit all the time) and that I had a pet bunny named Pooky too (spelled with “ie”)! Synchronicity? Maybe 🙂
Quick has the skill to write successful stories about those who may feel powerless or in the minority because of their conditions. He gives a voice and courage to many who may feel like an outcast or unwelcome. Finally, someone is telling their side. I don’t know about you, but I put this one up there in my top ten favorites. Thanks for writing this one, Matthew Quick.
If you are a member of the library, we have this title currently in Hard copy and as an audiobook. This may or may not change in the future. Please check the catalogue frequently for an update of formats.
If you liked this novel, you may want to read other books by Matthew Quick:
To read reviews on The Good Luck of Right Now, please click on the links below.
From The New York Times
From The Star
For information about Matthew Quick, click here.
Here are a couple of questions to get the conversation started:
-Bartholomew Neil fears he is a failure. Is he? How does society determine success or failure in life? Do these measures work for those who are different, like Bartholomew?
-Bartholomew muses, “What is reality if it isn’t how we feel about things?” How do you answer this? Can we create our own reality?
For the rest of the questions, please click here to access them from the BookBrowse website.
The famous Cat Parliament did actually exist for many years and probably while the book was being written. Unfortunately for tourists, the place closed in January of 2013. Fortunately for the cats, they were adopted into loving homes. To read about the history of the cat sanctuary, click here.
This book reminded me of …
As I mentioned in the beginning, aspects of the quirky characters and oddball love story is very similar to Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project. Along the same lines of misfits overcoming their insecurities, I thought about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon and Quick’s other book The Silver Linings Playbook. Another title that has fun with dysfunctional families and makes dark topics a little lighter is Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French. Finally, the philosophical elements and questions mirror one of my favorite books: Philip Sendker’s The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, which is still on a waiting list at our library (after I helped to spread the word). As in that novel, Good Luck brings up a lot of queries which also provide answers that allow you to contemplate and appreciate certain things—changing your world view.
Favorite quote from book:
“… in order for someone to win, someone else has to lose; and in order for someone to become rich, many others must stay poor; and in order for someone to be considered smart, many more people must be considered average or below average intelligence; and in order for someone to be considered extremely beautiful, there must be a plethora of regular-looking people and extremely ugly people as well; you can’t have good without bad, fast without slow, hot without cold, up without down, light without dark, round without flat, life without death—and so you can’t have lucky without unlucky either.” (p. 153)
Most revealing moment in the story:
Finding out who “Richard” and Bartholomew’s father really is. (p. 241)
Next month’s title:
Frog Music by Emma Donoghue