“This is a rare thing: an original, intelligent novel that’s not just a perfect summer beach read, but one that deserves serious awards consideration as well. Put down your phone and pick it up. . . . A major accomplishment.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
From the co-creator of How I Met Your Mother, a hilarious and thought-provoking debut novel set in New York City, following an unforgettable cast of characters as they navigate life, love, loss, ambition, and spirituality—without ever looking up from their phones
It’s the summer of 2015, and Alice Quick needs to get to work. She’s twenty-eight years old, grieving her mother, barely scraping by as a nanny, and freshly kicked out of her apartment. If she can just get her act together and sign up for the MCAT, she can start chasing her dream of becoming a doctor . . . but in the Age of Distraction, the distractions are so distracting. There’s her tech millionaire brother’s religious awakening. His picture-perfect wife’s emotional breakdown. Her chaotic new roommate’s thirst for adventure. And, of course, there’s the biggest distraction of all: love.
From within the story of one summer in one woman’s life, a tapestry of characters is unearthed, tied to one another by threads both seen and unseen. Filled with all the warmth, humor, and heart that gained How I Met Your Mother its cult following, The Mutual Friend captures in sparkling detail the chaos of contemporary life—a life lived simultaneously in two different worlds, the physical one and the one behind our screens—and reveals how connected we all truly are.
Bays, the cocreator of the television show How I Met Your Mother, debuts with an unwieldy story involving a bunch of people whose lives occasionally intersect in New York City. Tech millionaire Bill Quick, developer of an app called MeWantThat, finds meaning in Buddhism, while his wife, Marianne, spends her time shopping for the perfect piece of high-priced real estate. Bill's adopted sister, Alice currently a nanny with aspirations to become a doctor navigates the treacherous shoals of online dating. Generally, everyone is always on their phones, delivering an unsubtle message about the characters' disconnection from real life. The bare-bones plot revolves primarily around Alice's attempts to achieve her goals, and sprinkled in are light moments stemming from the comic value of characters such as the elderly, dick-pic-sending New York City mayor Spiderman (pronounced Speedermin), and of a dating app called Suitoronomy. But while Bays's prose has a distinct flair, he tends to ramble, with the style haltingly alternating between pages-long run-on sentences and blocks of paragraphs with nothing but ellipses. Despite a few good gags, this doesn't add up to much. Correction: In an earlier version of this review, a character and a dating app were incorrectly described, and the mayor character was misnamed.
Worth the effort
The beginning was a little slow as the author was building the characters. But it definitely got better. I enjoyed this book.