Jonathan Caine is one of those Bonfire of the Vanities Wall Street “Masters of the Universe” types that lets his greed for money get him in trouble in a way that only someone trading on Wall Street would understand – accidently losing billions in the market while trying to cover his a$$ets. Around the time the proverbial rug had been pulled from beneath his feet he goes to the provincial New Jersey home he grew up in to confront his dying father and attend his 25th high school reunion. While at the reunion, dressed in a suit that denotes success even though he might soon go to prison, he meets up with one of the most popular girls from his class whose life on the surface is very different from the reality underneath.
The Girl from Home by Adam Mitzner has a good page turner worthy plot but the characters seldom break out of a two dimensional mode and sometimes only remain a one dimensional stereotype. Mitzner steers the narrative away from making Jonathan a complete tool but there is still enough douchiness that readers don’t necessarily root for him to have a happy ever after ending. For instance Mitzner hints that the character Natasha, Jonathan’s trophy wife, has unexpressed emotions about betrayal (Jonathan neglects to tell her for months he no longer has a job). Near the end of the story though Jonathan writes her off as someone who is beautiful on the outside but ugly at her core which comes across to readers as convoluted since he admits he married her because she was arm candy and now is peeved that the person he viewed as a thing has moved on to escort another man’s arm. Further one feels that part of Jonathan’s attraction to Jacqueline/Jackie is because as a high school student he viewed her as someone out of his league. The fact that her ex-jock high school boyfriend is now her abusive husband only makes Jackie more vulnerable to an ex-nerd classmate who is now stunningly handsome and appears made of money. Mitzner tries to sell his readers that it is love but most of the time it feels like these two characters forge a relationship because both are going through a hard introspective period in their individual lives.
What was enjoyable about Girl is that it becomes a murder mystery two thirds through and kept me guessing as to the final result. Jonathan’s mantra throughout the story is that “he wants what he wants” and in the end this is reinterpreted from an East Hamptons ocean side retreat to something hopefully more fulfilling.
I recommend The Girl from Home as a fast rainy day read. I thought the Wall Street trading was interesting as Mitzner explained it as well as the parts dealing with various court systems.