Review: Surprise Me by Deena Goldstone

So, this was an interesting read.

Isabelle is in her last semester at college when she meets Daniel, a professor. He’s got a reputation and she has second doubts as to how their first meeting would go. Is he going to stare at her and say a word or will he actually say something?

Their meeting doesn’t last long. He gives an assignment she’s got no idea how she’d complete. Her roommates are no help and neither is her boyfriend. Each week she meets with Daniel, and the more she talks to him the closer they get. She breaks down the barriers and discovers the reasons he’s gained his reputation with all the other students, which has nothing to do with him thinking he’s above them all as a published author. He actually suffers from agoraphobia and if he didn’t need to work he’d stay home and never leave.

The attraction between them grows, though he’s like 30 years older than her. They get to understand each other and love between them grows. She gets to write 3 chapters of her novel before she graduates and leaves. When she leaves Daniel doesn’t know what to do with himself because in Isabelle he found what he’s never had.

They keep in contact throughout the years. Isabelle breaks up with her boyfriend, and moves in with a guy who’s got a thing for helping people and has the best job for it. When he’s home they have wild sex, but when he’s gone he’s gone for months at a time. He’s not the kind to settle, even after Isabelle has their baby.

Isabelle leaves him and moves on with her kid and her life. She resolves her issues with her parents, she makes new friends, travels to see Daniel upset that he got over his writer’s block and wrote a best seller that turned out to be about them. she gets over it and finally sleeps with him expecting nothing in return, and neither does Daniel. She later marries a guy named Michael, though there isn’t a whole lot of detail about him other than how much he loves her and how they met.

I’m surprised I was able to finish this book. I still don’t know how I feel about Isabelle sleeping with Daniel, granted she was older when she did, but still, he could’ve been her dad so that was kinda weird.

Surprise Me Book Cover Surprise Me
Deena Goldstone
Nan A. Talese
June 21, 2016

A bittersweet debut novel, Surprise Me is an unconventional love story about two writers who see more in each other than they see in themselves, and how that faith transforms them. The fragile dream of becoming a writer takes hold of Isabelle Rothman during her senior year of college. Feeling brave, she begins a one-on-one tutorial with a once highly praised novelist, Daniel Jablonski, who is known on campus as eccentric, difficult, and disengaged. Despite his reputation, Isabelle loves his early novels and hopes Daniel can teach her the secrets of his luminous prose. But their first meeting is a disaster. He never read the chapters she submitted and will not apologize for being unprepared. He has lived up to his reputation, and she feels dismissed, humiliated, and furious. But slowly, over the semester, they gingerly form a bond that begins to anchor both of them. And over the next twenty years, as they live very separate lives--she in Northern California and he finally settled in a tiny New Hampshire town--they reach out to each other through e-mails, phone calls, and visits. Their continual connection helps Isabelle find the courage to take greater risks and push Daniel to work through layers of self-loathing and regret that have kept his career from flourishing. They are the single constant in each other's life and the most profound influence. Daniel and Isabelle recognize they are among the blessed few who meet at the exact moment they need each other the most, and that their lives are transformed by this connection. In a final collaboration, the boundaries of teacher and student give way to a work that heals something in each of them. They truly see each other as extraordinary--as people do when they love--and that belief makes all the difference.