The Reason You’re Alive by Matthew Quick

In brief: David Granger has just woken up from surgery (which is most likely to be the government’s fault). But playing on his mind is a wrong from the Vietnam War he needs to right, as well as get a few relationships right.

The good: David is grumpy, funny and even though he’d be annoyed by this – a great hero.

The not-so-good: I devoured it really quickly!

Why I chose it: I know that I should have read a Matthew Quick book before this. Thanks Pan Macmillan for the copy.

Year: 2017

Pages: 226

Publisher: Picador (Pan Macmillan)

Setting: America

Rating: 9 out of 10

Matthew Quick is an author I haven’t read before so when the opportunity arose to read The Reason You’re Alive, I grabbed it. The book did not disappoint – this is a politically incorrect, sometimes unintentionally hilarious book that is actually full of love and care. David Granger is a hero wrapped in profanities, hiding a soft heart underneath.

From the opening line, The Reason You’re Alive doesn’t pull any punches. David Granger is here to tell you how it is and you’d better behave. Don’t go getting any fancy ideas about what you’re planning to do with this information. David has just woken up from surgery and is cut up to hear that he’s going to need looking after for a while. David is a Vietnam veteran and he doesn’t do care. He’d much prefer to be dressed in camo, packing heat. David knows that the war screwed him up and he’s done his best to be a husband, friend and father since in his own unorthodox way. He says exactly what he thinks on how he sees the world. He doesn’t like his son’s wife, nor his job and both know it. Yet one of his best friends is ‘genetically Vietnamese’, he’s devoted to his spin class trainer who happens to be gay and he’d do anything for his granddaughter. David talks tough and rough but he’s dedicated to the things he loves. I loved his grumpiness and I often laughed out loud in part shock/part seeing his opinions reflect men of the same era.

David has one mission left to do that his friends and family will hope give him some closure on his Vietnam service. As a soldier, he was forced to discipline another and took something precious. When he wakes up from surgery, that’s all he can talk about. So his loved ones (and he does have a lot of them) decide to help him right that wrong. David’s scared but something positive just might come his way too…

I loved this story for so many reasons. It’s unconventional, blunt and a breath of fresh air in today’s world. It goes to show that tough talk that goes against the social grain can hide some good people. (I’m not saying this is reflective of everyone though!) David is an unexpected, unlikely hero of today. He’s unique. It also made me consider how much thanking someone for their military service could potentially go a long way, no matter how much you personally disagree with the reason for war/intervention. David was one in a machine, forced to do what he had to do. He didn’t decide to send his country to war but he went. So thank you for your service Veterans, no matter where you were and what you did. In addition, David meets with a lot of people in his life but he can always find the goodness in them, no matter their race, history, politics or sexual orientation.

The Reason You’re Alive is a short book at 226 pages, but it’s one that packs a punch above its weight. A likeable book that will remain with you despite an initially grumpy, cranky narrator.

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