Book Review by Michelle Goetzl
North Carolina author Daniel Wallace’s newest book, “Extraordinary Adventures,” is a quirky, coming-of-age novel focusing on an odd-ball, lonely, 34-year-old man who has let life just pass him by. An unexpected phone call offering him a free weekend in Destin, Florida, jolts him into action, initiating some ‘extraordinary adventures’ into his otherwise hum-drum existence.
Edsel Bronfman is an unremarkable man living an unremarkable life. He works as a junior executive shipping clerk for an importer of Korean flatware, lives in a seedy apartment building and spends his spare time with his mother. He is thoroughly excited when he “wins” a free weekend at a condo in Florida, not realizing that it is a time-share company trying to get his business. The only sticking point is that the operator who calls him says that he has to bring a companion along and that the offer expires in 79 days.
That operator sets Bronfman, a socially awkward man stuck in a perpetual state of inertia, to attempt to make some changes in his life. The operator, acting like a sort of fairy godmother, tells Bronfman, “You have to open yourself up to life,” and he actually does.
In addition to Bronfman, the book is littered with colorful characters. Bronfman’s mother, Muriel, had him after a one-night stand, is suffering from dementia and randomly takes him to the hotel where he was conceived. Muriel is anything but ordinary and isn’t sure how Bronfman wound up so bland. Bronfman’s neighbor is a man who goes by the name of Thomas Edison and is a drug dealer who may, or may not, have also broken into Bronfman’s apartment and stolen all of his stuff.
As for the companion that he might take to Destin, opening himself up to the world brings three possible women into his life. The first woman that Bronfman notices is Shiela McNabb, a temp in his office building who likes to classify people as different animals. Shortly after that he meets Serena Stanton, a local policewoman who investigates when Bronfman is robbed. And finally, there is Coco, an associate of Thomas Edison who has seen more of the world and longs for something different.
As the 79 days tick away, Bronfman must figure out who he is and what he wants out of life. Having never stepped out of his comfort zone before, readers are taken along on his journey of self-discovery and exploration.
Goetzl writes an online blog—“Books My Kids Read.” She loves books and sharing that love of reading with children. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org