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Car Trouble

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From a bright new talent, a witty, moving, and inspirational coming-of-age debut novel set in 1970s Brooklyn about a teenager and his abusive father whose obsession with broken down vintage cars careens wildly out of control. Nicky Flynn is coming-of-age in 1970s Brooklyn, riding into his sophomore year at St. Michaels, the last hurrah of the Diocesan school system. A buddi From a bright new talent, a witty, moving, and inspirational coming-of-age debut novel set in 1970s Brooklyn about a teenager and his abusive father whose obsession with broken down vintage cars careens wildly out of control. Nicky Flynn is coming-of-age in 1970s Brooklyn, riding into his sophomore year at St. Michaels, the last hurrah of the Diocesan school system. A budding young actor, Nicky is at once sensitive, resilient, exasperated, and keenly observant—especially when it comes to his father, Patrick. Undeniably enigmatic, and coasting on vanity, charm, and desperation, “Himself” as Nicky calls his father, is given to picking up old car junkers, for cheap at NYPD auctions—each sputtering, tail-finned treasure subsidized by poker games. To Patrick, these chrome glamour tanks are his obsessions, repairable reminders of the past when he was young, and everything seemed new and gleaming and possible—before he had a family. For Nicky, each one is a milestone. Whether it’s a harrowing joy ride or a driving lesson, they’re unforgettable markers on his path toward an unpredictable future. But as Patrick’s compulsions slide into alcoholism and abuse, Nicky, his mother, and sisters brace themselves for an inevitable sharp turn in their addled lives. Narrated with humor and a rueful awareness, Car Trouble is an exhilarating novel about acceptance, regret, compassion, and finding your authentic adult self amid the rubble and rumble of growing up.  


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From a bright new talent, a witty, moving, and inspirational coming-of-age debut novel set in 1970s Brooklyn about a teenager and his abusive father whose obsession with broken down vintage cars careens wildly out of control. Nicky Flynn is coming-of-age in 1970s Brooklyn, riding into his sophomore year at St. Michaels, the last hurrah of the Diocesan school system. A buddi From a bright new talent, a witty, moving, and inspirational coming-of-age debut novel set in 1970s Brooklyn about a teenager and his abusive father whose obsession with broken down vintage cars careens wildly out of control. Nicky Flynn is coming-of-age in 1970s Brooklyn, riding into his sophomore year at St. Michaels, the last hurrah of the Diocesan school system. A budding young actor, Nicky is at once sensitive, resilient, exasperated, and keenly observant—especially when it comes to his father, Patrick. Undeniably enigmatic, and coasting on vanity, charm, and desperation, “Himself” as Nicky calls his father, is given to picking up old car junkers, for cheap at NYPD auctions—each sputtering, tail-finned treasure subsidized by poker games. To Patrick, these chrome glamour tanks are his obsessions, repairable reminders of the past when he was young, and everything seemed new and gleaming and possible—before he had a family. For Nicky, each one is a milestone. Whether it’s a harrowing joy ride or a driving lesson, they’re unforgettable markers on his path toward an unpredictable future. But as Patrick’s compulsions slide into alcoholism and abuse, Nicky, his mother, and sisters brace themselves for an inevitable sharp turn in their addled lives. Narrated with humor and a rueful awareness, Car Trouble is an exhilarating novel about acceptance, regret, compassion, and finding your authentic adult self amid the rubble and rumble of growing up.  

41 review for Car Trouble

  1. 4 out of 5

    Edwin Howard

    Coming-of-age when you are the eldest of five children and the only boy in the 1970's in Brooklyn can be tough but compound that with the strained race relations in Brooklyn and having an alcoholic father and you can see why Nicky Flynn in CAR TROUBLE by Robert Rorke, has to grow up quickly during his sophomore year in high school. Rorke's book covers Nicky Flynn's perfect storm of hormones, acceptance, self-discovery, family bonds (or lack thereof), and evolving Brooklyn neighborhoods. Rorke do Coming-of-age when you are the eldest of five children and the only boy in the 1970's in Brooklyn can be tough but compound that with the strained race relations in Brooklyn and having an alcoholic father and you can see why Nicky Flynn in CAR TROUBLE by Robert Rorke, has to grow up quickly during his sophomore year in high school. Rorke's book covers Nicky Flynn's perfect storm of hormones, acceptance, self-discovery, family bonds (or lack thereof), and evolving Brooklyn neighborhoods. Rorke does a remarkable job of attaching the reader to this young man, Nicky, who is growing up quickly. Almost immediately the reader feels all of the bumps in the road that Nicky feels, not just reading about them from a distance. Nicky's father Pat, who Nicky calls Himself, is an untreated alcoholic whose is unpredictable and intimidating. Nicky always wonders when his father's addiction will rage it's ugly head and damage the family again. The looming feeling carries through to the reader, every page that is turned has the potential to blow Nicky's family up. Himself goes through several cars, hence the title of the book, and each car he picks is a reflection of him. Like the outside of the cars he picks up at the police auction, Himself cleans up nice on the outside, but on the inside he can only hold himself together for so long. If it was unclear what it means to live with an alcoholic before reading CAR TROUBLE, I think the realization that although there are 7 people in Nicky's family (mother, father, 5 kids), Himself's (the father's) addiction forces the entire family's lives to revolve around him. Gritty and touching, CAR TROUBLE is a book I won't soon forget and it opened my eyes to addiction in a way few of any other books ever have. I received this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    I devoured this book by Robert Rorke and could barely put it down. In its depiction of growing up in a family with an alcoholic father and a mother doing her best to keep food on the table and the rent paid, it struck too close to home for my comfort, so I can't say that I enjoyed it. The story is written in the first person by Nicky, the only son and the oldest in a family of five kids. Each section starts with the name of a car, and the book is built around the secession of cars that the fathe I devoured this book by Robert Rorke and could barely put it down. In its depiction of growing up in a family with an alcoholic father and a mother doing her best to keep food on the table and the rent paid, it struck too close to home for my comfort, so I can't say that I enjoyed it. The story is written in the first person by Nicky, the only son and the oldest in a family of five kids. Each section starts with the name of a car, and the book is built around the secession of cars that the father brings home: the Blue Max, Black Beauty, the Pink Panther, etc. This is an advanced reader's copy, and there were a few errors. On page 72, the mother "loosened lowered" bushes into the ground. One word too many. On page 203, the protagonist said he "dropped his hands" but I could find no reference to where, when or why he put them up in the first place. On page 217, there is a question mark that should be a period. The sentence makes no sense as a question. There is a subject-verb conflict on page 345. Page 351 has an extraneous comma in the fourth paragraph. Page 385 has a disjointed sentence in the third paragraph. Even though I could not enjoy the novel, it is therapeutic to me to see how other kids handled some of the same stuff I lived through, even if they are fictional characters.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Robert Levinson

    I found this book to be fantastic. If you're a member of a family, whether the adult or the child, or a sibling, you need to read this book as it gives you insight to all the elements of family and how difficult it is to navigate family successfully. It takes place in 1970's Brooklyn but the issues are universal. All the characters are as realistic and honest as the reader and Mr. Rorke does an exceptional job of making the reader understand the complexities of both parenting and growing up in a I found this book to be fantastic. If you're a member of a family, whether the adult or the child, or a sibling, you need to read this book as it gives you insight to all the elements of family and how difficult it is to navigate family successfully. It takes place in 1970's Brooklyn but the issues are universal. All the characters are as realistic and honest as the reader and Mr. Rorke does an exceptional job of making the reader understand the complexities of both parenting and growing up in a less than heavenly environment. The remarkable thing about this book is that the reader gets to grow with the protagonist (Nicky) and experience the things he does both at home, in school, at play rehersal and during the the weekends, when life really happens. Enjoy. I guarantee you will.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I thoroughly enjoyed this one! About a boy coming of age in 1970's Brooklyn, trying to navigate life with an alcoholic for a father. I loved the setting of this book. And I enjoyed the characters, even the alcoholic father. His was a complicated one. A tough read at times because of the alcohol abuse but still a touching story about the complexities of family and addiction, and growing up and finding your true self. Recommended read!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mackenzie

  6. 4 out of 5

    Leah

  7. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alan Sebel

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bradley Valentine

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cyber

  12. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kim Ellis

  14. 5 out of 5

    Micielle

  15. 5 out of 5

    Allie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rachella Baker

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Heare Watts

  18. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mary Simmons

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cinthia

  21. 4 out of 5

    James Cozzarelli

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gary Green

  24. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Adams

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ann Ellis

  27. 5 out of 5

    F

  28. 5 out of 5

    Debee Sue

  29. 4 out of 5

    Susan Kennedy

  30. 5 out of 5

    David

  31. 5 out of 5

    Chattie

  32. 5 out of 5

    Leigh

  33. 5 out of 5

    Angela Mancino

  34. 5 out of 5

    Sue

  35. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  36. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

  37. 5 out of 5

    Stacia Chappell

  38. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  39. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Hall

  40. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

  41. 4 out of 5

    Shelby Brigham

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