Book Review: Know Your Beholder by Adam Rapp

Posted March 3, 2015 by @Angelized_1st in Books, Entertainment / 3 Comments

I received this book for free from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Know Your Beholder by Adam RappKnow Your Beholder by Adam Rapp
Published by Little, Brown on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Fiction, Humorous, Literary, Satire
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Goodreads
ISBN: 0316368911
Buy on: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks

From a Pulitzer Prize finalist comes a hilarious and heartbreaking novel about a musician climbing back from rock bottom. As winter deepens in snowbound Pollard, Illinois, thirty-something Francis Falbo is holed up in his attic apartment, recovering from a series of traumas: his mother's death, his beloved wife's desertion, and his once-ascendant rock band's irreconcilable break-up. Francis hasn't shaved in months, hasn't so much as changed out of his bathrobe-"the uniform of a Life in Default"-for nine days. Other than the agoraphobia that continues to hold him hostage, all he has left is his childhood home, whose remaining rooms he rents to a cast of eccentric tenants, including a pair of former circus performers whose daughter has gone missing. The tight-knit community has already survived a blizzard, but there is more danger in store for the citizens of Pollard before summer arrives. Francis is himself caught up in these troubles as he becomes increasingly entangled in the affairs of others, with results that are by turns disastrous, hysterical, and ultimately healing. Fusing consummate wit with the seriousness attending an adulthood gone awry, Rapp has written an uproarious and affecting novel about what we do and where we go when our lives have crumbled around us. Sharp-edged but tenderhearted, Know Your Beholder introduces us to one of the most lovably flawed characters in recent fiction, a man at last able to collect the jagged pieces of his dreams and begin anew, in both life and love. Seldom have our foibles and our efforts to persevere in spite of them been laid bare with such heart and hope.

 The Good…:

Author Adam Rapp gives readers a glimpse into the life and mind of rock musician turned landlord Francis Falbo, following a series of devastating events in his life. As Francis grapples with his mother’s death, his wife’s abandonment, and the break-up of his band, he begins to obsess over the lives of his quirky tenants. Agoraphobic Francis’s life is hysterically depressing. He walks around in long johns, a bathrobe, and slippers for a large part of the book, grows out a beard he’s constantly losing food in, and facies himself at times a detective, a burglar, and a spy. All while “trapped” inside his childhood home.

“You cry in your sleep like a battered woman on food stamps. So don’t try to pretend that I’m the only one here with issues.” – Adam Rapp, Know Your Beholder

Francis isn’t alone. He’s surrounded by a strange cast of characters who are dealing with their own traumas. There’s his ex-brother-in-law who smokes weed and plays video games all day. A couple of ex-circus performers whose daughter was kidnapped at a local Target. A young art student that invites strange men to her apartment. The happiest man on earth. And an ex-teacher/widower that feels the draw of acting on stage.

The Bad…:

As much as I enjoyed this novel, I really didn’t know where it was heading. At one point it appeared to be turning into a murder mystery. In another, Francis made some decisions that left me wondering if I should root for him, or denounce him. This novel swerved in many different directions. While this helped to keep me on my toes and invested in the story, it also left me wondering how to receive some of the events that took place.

Do I Recommend?

Yes! The above synopsis states, “Know Your Beholder is an uproarious and affecting novel about what we do when our lives have crumbled around us and we must collect the jagged pieces and begin anew.” Readers watch as Francis struggles to mend his broken heart, and pick up the pieces to move on. This is something we’ve all experienced at some time or another. Adam Rapp brings into focus how hard some losses can be, and how we may do crazy things along the road to the next phase in our lives. Part humor, part murder mystery, part … who the hell knows! Know Your Beholder will have you laughing from beginning to end (when you’re not embarrassed for Francis on his behalf).

Rating Report
Overall: 3.6

About Adam Rapp

Adam Rapp says that when he was working on his chilling, compulsively readable young adult novel 33 SNOWFISH, he was haunted by several questions. Among them: “When we have nowhere to go, who do we turn to? Why are we sometimes drawn to those who are deeply troubled? How far do we have to run before we find new possibilities?”

Adam Rapp’s first novel, MISSING THE PIANO, was named a Best Book for Young Adults as well as a Best Book for Reluctant Readers by the American Library Association. His subsequent titles include THE BUFFALO TREE, THE COPPER ELEPHANT, and LITTLE CHICAGO, which was chosen as a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. The author’s raw, stream-of-consciousness writing style has earned him critical acclaim.

In addition to being a novelist, Adam Rapp is also an accomplished and award-winning playwright. His plays–including NOCTURNE, ANIMALS AND PLANTS, BLACKBIRD, and STONE COLD DEAD SERIOUS–have been produced by the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the New York Theatre Workshop, and the Bush Theatre in London, among other venues.

Born and raised in Chicago, the novelist and playwright now lives in New York City.


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3 responses to “Book Review: Know Your Beholder by Adam Rapp

  1. I just wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for the Leibster Award, even though you have WAY more than 200 followers. I seemed to have overlooked that fact. However, I think that you do deserve this award due to your fabulous blog!

    • Oh, wow, thanks! It brightens my day to know you appreciate my blog. I will begin thinking up answers to your questions and blog to nominate tonight. So excited!

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