Joe's twin brother, Alvin, disappeared. And with him went Joe's tenuous grip on real life. The rest of it: the road trip, the maybe-murder, the burned-down house--all of that came later.
At eighteen, Joe is stuck in limbo. Directionless and simple, he blows through his inheritance playing poker and eats only cheeseburgers, pizza, and guacamole. Then his twin brother, Alvin, disappears--and Julia, Alvin's tempestuous girlfriend, takes Joe on a whirlwind road trip from L.A. to Tennessee. There, he's thrust into the dysfunctional dynamic of her wealthy family. For the first time, Joe has a job. He has a suit he wears every day. And he's in love with a crazy, beautiful girl who only talks honestly in her sleep. Joe's so blinded by his seductive new life that he almost misses the truth about what happened to his twin...
Maybe Joe can't grow up--but he can love.
Why I Read This:
The mystery aspect of the story intrigued me.
This One Time With Julia is the prime example of why sometimes you just have to stick with a book until you really understand it. It took me a long time to understand Joe.
Everything with Joe felt like a hazy mess of who-knows-what. I started to wonder if it was the writing or if this really was Joe's character...kinda slow, mentally. When you throw in the fact that Joe starts hallucinating conversations with his twin brother, it just got weirder.
It was some point after the third hallucination that I just gave in and started reading this the same way I would any book in the magical realism genre. I don't think I could possibly classify this as contemporary. For me, it felt more like a day dream - a fantasy version of reality.
The author did clear things up about Joe around half-way through the book and everything started getting a bit clearer. As for Julia and the other characters I find it hard to say much at all. The story is told through Joe's perspective and so also through that haziness of just floating along with them. I didn't feel strongly about any of them, to be honest, although if told through a different view points would probably have been much more fascinating to me.
As other reviewers have said, the dialogue doesn't feel realistic. To a point. If you are a person that thrives on the realism found in contemporary novels, it probably would bug you. But I really had no problem with it at all. I felt like the way everyone talked just added to the effect of the book which I think the author was trying to get across. I feel like sometimes it's okay for a story to get it's point across through style this way, and after reading all of This One Time With Julia, did think the author did a decent job of that in his own unique way.
My opinion - read lots of reviews before deciding if you'd like to read this one. I think it would take a certain kind of person to really appreciate what the author is putting forth here.
I bought my copy.