Scott Brown
September 10, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Joshua Braff
publisher
Algonquin Books
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B

Braff’s elegiac tale of a mid-’70s Jersey boyhood shares at least one attribute?a psychologically abusive father?with brother Zach’s zanier movie, Garden State. But Unthinkable‘s paterfamilias, the smothering, histrionic narcissist Abram Green, is more richly awful: Every member of the clan — from wistful shiksa wife Claire to rebellious firstborn Asher to our teenage narrator Jacob — is expected to perform in Dad’s nonstop ego cabaret. As Braff chronicles the inevitable implosion in brisk, readable prose, his texture (if not his Roth-ish sexual realism) recalls very good young-adult fiction. Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t develop so much as defend poor besieged Jacob, who learns cruel lessons in the limits of love — and not much else.

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