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Monday, November 12, 2012

Life Among Giants: A Novel

Life Among Giants, by Bill Roorbach, is a slew of things: murder mystery, star-crossed love story, family history, and epic tale.

David "Lizard" Hochmeyer is a pushing seven feet and is a superb football player--so superb, in fact, that when he refuses to cut his hair and gets kicked off his high school football team senior year he is still offered a full scholarship to Princeton. His parents are mighty proud of him and his sister, Kate, even though she can sometimes be right off her rocker. They all pluck right along until the Hochmeyer parents are mysteriously gunned down in the restaurant parking lot--in front of Lizard. Who is responsible for these murders? Does it have to do with his father's shady boss, or possibly with the world-famous ballerina and her deceased rocker husband who live next door? As decades pass, the mystery deepens and Lizard must go to great ends to keep what is left of his family together and search out what--and who--was truly behind his parents' double murder.

I didn't think things in this novel could get more topsy or turvey--until it did, over and over. I mean this as an absolute compliment, because this book was so full of intrigue and mystery that it was hard to set it aside to do everyday things, like eat and sleep and run my subway card through the turnstile. The murder happens early in the story as a setup for everything that comes after--everything that is so intertwined that it is near impossible for an event to be unrelated to the ultimate, and inevitable, ending.

Roorbach is quite a writer--he obviously cares deeply about his characters as he creates them with such intimate detail and loving tenderness. Kate is bipolar and Lizard is so patient with her; there is such pathos in the character development that I, too, grew to love and root for Kate. I grew to know Mr. Hochmeyer, their father, and I tried to read his mind along with his children to solve the mystery that pulled apart their family. I desperately wanted to believe Kate's delusions (or where they?) about what her father left behind, and I wanted Lizard to love and be loved in return. I knew Sylphide, the world-famous ballerina next door, as an intimate friend and loved one. I rooted for these people and I was rewarded at the end.

Roorbach has truly pulled together a lovely novel that is worth picking up and spending time with the world he has created. You will leave it satisfied.

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