Book recommendation: The Full Ridiculous by Mark Lamprell

Think about the books you’ve read recently. What point of view were they written in? First? Third? Or was it the rare second?

Second person point of view isn’t a choice that many authors make. It can be a bit difficult to pull off properly, largely because, if it’s done wrong, the reader tends to be pay more attention to the point of view than they do the actual story.

In fact, I’ve found second person point of view to be so rare that I hadn’t read a novel that utilizes it until recently. And, to be honest, I didn’t realize The Full Ridiculous was written in second person until I actually started reading it.

The beginning of The Full Ridiculous is a bit of a punch in the face; Michael O’Dell gets hit by a car while out for a morning jog, an accident that kicks off nearly a year of bad experiences. Michael has a hard time dealing with it all, though there are times when his old self – and his old sense of humour – shine through.

When I started reading the novel, it wasn’t Michael’s accident that surprised me. What did surprise me was that the book was written as though I was Michael. The first sentence, for example, is “Halfway through a ten-kilometre run, you have yet another premonition that you’re hit by a car while jogging so you decide to outwit the fates by changing course, heading down Hastings Road instead of up it.”

I was a bit thrown at first, to be honest. I re-read the summary on the back, noting that, no, it didn’t leave any clues that The Full Ridiculous was written in second person. So I turned back to the beginning of the book, feeling slightly hesitant. I wasn’t sure if this reading experience was going to work out for me.

But you know what? It did. Once I got past my initial doubt, I ended up really getting into the rhythm of the novel. There are a couple of chapters written in third person – chapters that focus on another character instead of Michael – but the majority of it is written in second person. And I found that Mark Lamprell did a really good job of writing this point of view in a way that had me immersed in the book, connecting with the characters, and wondering how everything was going to turn out.

I definitely enjoyed it, and I’m now more open to reading second-person-point-of-view novels in the future.

Goodreads summary

A funny, compelling novel about love, family, and the precarious business of being a man.

Michael O’Dell is hit by a car. When he doesn’t die, he is surprised and pleased. But he can’t seem to move from the crash position. In fact, the accident is just the first in a series of family crises: His wife Wendy is heroically supportive, but when his daughter Rosie punches out a vindictive schoolmate, all hell breaks loose. His son Declan is found with a stash of illicit drugs. A strange policeman starts harassing the family and ordinary mishaps take on a sinister desperation. To top it all off, Michael’s professional life starts to crumble.

Mark Lamprell’s extraordinary debut examines the terrible truth: sometimes you can’t pull yourself together until you’ve completely fallen apart.

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