Fleishman Is in Trouble – Taffy Brodesser-Akner


Recently separated Toby Fleishman is suddenly, somehow–and at age forty-one, short as ever–surrounded by women who want him: women who are self-actualized, women who are smart and interesting, women who don’t mind his height, women who are eager to take him for a test drive with just the swipe of an app. Toby doesn’t mind being used in this way; it’s a welcome change from the thirteen years he spent as a married man, the thirteen years of emotional neglect and contempt he’s just endured. Anthropologically speaking, it’s like nothing he ever experienced before, particularly back in the 1990s, when he first began dating and became used to swimming in the murky waters of rejection.

But Toby’s new life–liver specialist by day, kids every other weekend, rabid somewhat anonymous sex at night–is interrupted when his ex-wife suddenly disappears. Either on a vision quest or a nervous breakdown, Toby doesn’t know–she won’t answer his texts or calls.

Is Toby’s ex just angry, like always? Is she punishing him, yet again, for not being the bread winner she was? As he desperately searches for her while juggling his job and parenting their two unraveling children, Toby is forced to reckon with the real reasons his marriage fell apart, and to ask if the story he has been telling himself all this time is true.

About the Author:

Taffy Brodesser-Akner is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine. She has also written for GQ, ESPN the Magazine, and many other publications. Fleishman Is in Trouble is her first novel.

My Review:

Firstly I would like to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation to join the blogtour and for my copy of the book.

Having the read the blurb above Fleishman Is in Trouble really appealed to me for lots of reasons and I couldn’t wait to get started.

41 year old, Dr Toby Fleishman is finally free of his awful wife and miserable marriage having spent the last fifteen years being belittled (not difficult as Toby is only 5ft 5″ tall) by his successful, workaholic and controlling wife Rachel.  He’s a dedicated and committed hepatologist and would rather be treating patients than climbing the career ladder, which was a bone of contention throughout his marriage.  He was home every night to feed and look after the kids whilst Rachel, the main breadwinner, ran her empire earning enough money for them to live a very privileged life in Manhattan.

One morning Toby wakes in his new apartment to find Rachel has dropped off their children, 11 year old Hannah and 9 year old Solly, a day early and has disappeared completely.  Not responding to texts, calls or messages Toby has to juggle his children, job and newly discovered sex life whilst trying to find his ex-wife.

The story is narrated by Toby’s college friend Libby and takes the reader on a long journey from Toby’s early life to the present and looks deeply at the events that led to the breakdown of their marriage.

Toby is a small man who spent his childhood extremely overweight in a typically religious Jewish household riddled with insecurities, self doubt and self loathing.  With little or no understanding of the female race, he meets and marries Rachel because she appears to be “normal”, however as the story unfolds it’s clear she is anything but normal.

This is a story which covers in depth the themes of marriage, divorce, online dating, midlife crises and whilst it is amusing and observational it could have been shorter in places as I felt it did drag along also whilst reading this book I couldn’t help but imagine Toby as Peter Jacobson from House M.D.

Overall I found this book an interesting and thought provoking read which could have been several pages shorter, but was an interesting look at gender roles and living in a world of online dating apps.