Here’s the Booklist Review of All The Happiness You Deserve. My thanks to reviewer Mark Eleveld and Booklist for including me:
Piafsky’s debut novel is a slow, wonderful read that slices a midwestern boy’s life into vignettes. The story is delivered with a holism evocative of a John Irving novel (the father, Garland, even tries to influence the protagonist to wrestle in college), and it is very male. Early on in the story, the mother grows weary of the father’s “salesman” drinking behavior and leaves with her daughter for two years, abandoning the son to live with his boozy, meat-and-potatoes father. The dynamic between father and son becomes the novel’s nucleus. As the son moves to Boston to attend college, and, eventually, to Seattle and New York, the father notes, “This one here . . . seems to have made it his life’s mission to move as far away from home as possible.” There is abandonment, early tragedy, girlfriends, and money, and yet, Piafsky ultimately asks, do we ever truly leave home? This isn’t an easy novel and the time line is uneven, but it is beautifully written and deeply rewarding. Piafsky is heading toward becoming a major writer.