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Car Trouble: A Novel by Robert Rorke

Car Trouble: A Novel (edition 2018)

by Robert Rorke (Author)

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209731,420 (4.1)4
Title:Car Trouble: A Novel
Authors:Robert Rorke (Author)
Info:Harper Perennial (2018), 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Families--Fiction, Fathers and sons--Fiction, Irish Americans--Fiction, New York City--Fiction

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Car Trouble: A Novel by Robert Rorke



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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I recieved this book through a giveaway on LibraryThing. This book is set in 1970s New York and follows Nicky as he navigates school and his home life. He deals with his father or “Himself’ (the moniker he’s given throughout the book), an alcoholic and abusive man. The story is told in what I might think as of vignettes. Each section of the book is framed by the new car that Nicky’s father has purchased, but all of these stories are linked though Nicky’s experiences. The setting, characters, and time period seemed authentic and I genuinely cared for Nicky, his family and his friends. ( )
  rachie615 | Nov 3, 2018 |
I really liked this book. Contrary to some negative reviews here, it was well written, and moved along with an easy pace. Some say it's too long at a little over 400 pages. It held my interest. Along with it, I'm reading Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton bio. "Car Trouble" moves faster than that!!!! ( )
  mckall08 | Oct 21, 2018 |
Car Trouble is a coming-of-age novel about a young man in 1970s Brooklyn who must find a path through life even as his alcoholic father overshadows what he does and thinks. Vain and reckless, Nicky’s father is larger than life, dominating everything and everyone in the home. The family refers to his father as “Himself,” as though he were the king and center of all. The story is told from Nicky’s point of view, as he is caught up in the almost daily drama of wondering when his father will be home, and when he is home, how to protect his mother and sisters from a violent and unpredictable alcoholic, while pretending to all the world that that the problem doesn’t exist.

Nicky sees the other side of his father as he watches him move a motorcycle victim out of the street, and he unintentionally becomes part of his father’s efforts to protect the family from what he perceives as threats from society. His father is unable to hold a job because of his alcoholism and violence, and Nicky is drawn into his father’s attempts to get back at those who he thinks have wronged him. Yet, as a young man Nicky is searching for a role model, and so he must reconcile the two sides of his father with others who care about him, such as a teacher who introduces him to acting and singing in a school play, his mother, his friends, his uncle, and the neighbor next door.

The flashy cars that his father brings home from precinct auctions act as mileposts through the story; the Blue Max, the Green Hornet, the Black Beauty, and the Pink Panther. Each one is at least a decade old and discarded, yet Nicky’s father loves to drive them fast and hard. They are reminders of a time when everything was possible in his father’s life, before the world of opportunity changed into a world of work and responsibilities. He teaches Nicky how to drive, and we find that same love of flashy cars is what Nicky takes with him from his father as he ends up as a successful actor, exchanging the drama of his home with the drama of the stage.

The story settings are vivid and reflect the experiences and memories of author Robert Rorke. We are drawn into a gritty and changing neighborhood scene, long car rides, and the love/hate relationship with a dominating alcoholic father. Car Trouble pulls in the reader and doesn’t let go. It’s as though we, too, are on a drive with Nicky’s father in Black Beauty or the Pink Panther, not really knowing what the next turn in the road will bring. ( )
  hoo2ask4 | Oct 14, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
416 pages is a bit on the long side; the first hundred pages are a bit slow and aimless. The second half gets quite good though, once the main character finds his voice. Overall, an interesting character sketch but no discernible plot. ( )
  Darth-Heather | Aug 8, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Coming-of-age when you are the eldest of five children and the only boy in the 1970's in Brooklyn can be tough but compound that with the strained race relations in Brooklyn and having an alcoholic father and you can see why Nicky Flynn in CAR TROUBLE by Robert Rorke, has to grow up quickly during his sophomore year in high school. Rorke's book covers Nicky Flynn's perfect storm of hormones, acceptance, self-discovery, family bonds (or lack thereof), and evolving Brooklyn neighborhoods.
Rorke does a remarkable job of attaching the reader to this young man, Nicky, who is growing up quickly. Almost immediately the reader feels all of the bumps in the road that Nicky feels, not just reading about them from a distance. Nicky's father Pat, who Nicky calls Himself, is an untreated alcoholic whose is unpredictable and intimidating. Nicky always wonders when his father's addiction will rage it's ugly head and damage the family again. The looming feeling carries through to the reader, every page that is turned has the potential to blow Nicky's family up. Himself goes through several cars, hence the title of the book, and each car he picks is a reflection of him. Like the outside of the cars he picks up at the police auction, Himself cleans up nice on the outside, but on the inside he can only hold himself together for so long. If it was unclear what it means to live with an alcoholic before reading CAR TROUBLE, I think the realization that although there are 7 people in Nicky's family (mother, father, 5 kids), Himself's (the father's) addiction forces the entire family's lives to revolve around him.
Gritty and touching, CAR TROUBLE is a book I won't soon forget and it opened my eyes to addiction in a way few of any other books ever have.
I received this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. ( )
  EHoward29 | Aug 6, 2018 |
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