I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Congratulations On Everything by Nathan Whitlock
Published by ECW Press on May 1, 2016
Genres: Dark Humor, Humor & Satire, Literary
Buy on Amazon
A dark and comic novel, Congratulations On Everything tracks the struggles, frailties and cruelly pyrrhic victories of the middle-aged owner of a bar-restaurant and a 30ish lunch shift waitress.
Jeremy has bought into the teachings of an empowerment and success guru, hook, line and sinker. A Toronto service industry lifer, he’s risen through the ranks until he finally takes the keys to his destiny and opens his own place, The Ice Shack.
Everyone assumes Ice Shack daytime waitress Charlene is innocent and empathetic, but in reality she’s desperately unhappy and looking for a way out of her marriage to her high-school sweetheart. A drunken encounter between Charlene and her boss Jeremy sends them both careening. The Ice Shack stops being an oasis of sanity and, as Jeremy struggles to keep his business afloat, he’ll stop at nothing to maintain his successful, good guy self-image.
In an era when foodies rule and chefs become superstars, Congratulations On Everything is a hilarious and occasionally uncomfortable dose of anti-foodie reality that reveals what goes on when the customers and Instagrammers aren’t around — and even sometimes when they are.
Congratulations on Everything by Nathan Whitlock is a read I saw similar to an updated Cheers. A bar, the Ice Shack, is the heart of the story and those who work and drink in it are featured. The tale focused on Jeremy the bar’s good guy owner and Charlene one of the waitresses with an army of side characters filling in the gaps. While touted as humorous, the book seemed more of a cautionary tale to me, of what happens when you fill your sense of self with a thing or an idea and not with people.
The plot of Congratulations on Everything is interesting but not deep. A bar owner who wants to prove that he is a good guy at the heart of everything. The writing of Nathan Whitlock was good, but he tended to ramble a bit in his narrations and I would get lost sometimes in the dense barrage. The pacing had some issues as time sometimes skipped forward when it felt like the section before had not been finished. The world built was sparse but worked. Almost the entire book revolved around the bar, so that was the only thing that really needed to be showcased. This was not an emotion heavy book. The characters created their own issues and while I could feel for them, I never felt with them. Charlene as a secondary min character never clicked with me, and I think if Jeremy had been the primary focus I would have enjoyed it more.
While Congratulations on Everything is categorized as a dark humor book on Amazon and in the synopsis it states that it is a dark and comic novel, I found Nathan Whitlock’s tale to be more sad than funny. Jeremy is a character that I sympathized with and understood, however he was at the root of all of his own issues. His need to be seen as successful and a good ole boy hampered everything he did. I understand that was the heart of the message, but I just can’t click with a read where there is no attempt at character growth. I did enjoy a good portion of Whitlock’s writing, I just think the subject matter hampered my enthusiasm.
Favorite lines – Inviting strangers into your place was an act of faith. He had never struggled with that faith, never had any real sense of doubt, until he got a place of his own. With the Shack, he’d been tested, but he’d also been rewarded.
Biggest cliché – Must ensure I appear happy at all times.
Have you read Congratulations on Everything, or added it to your TBR?
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2016 New Release Challenge
- Mount TBR Reading Challenge
- Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
- The Goodreads Challenge