I came to Thanks for the Trouble with a lot of goodwill. I enjoyed Tommy Wallach’s previous book, We All Looked Up (until the annoying non-ending anyway) and I was looking forward to reading this one. Ultimately, it kind of let me down.
Thanks for the Trouble is funny; the narrator, Parker, who has been mute since the death of his father, has an entertaining voice and there is an enjoyable amount of swearing. I don’t know why I enjoy swearing so much, but never mind. He’s an appealing story-teller, which is cleverly ironic; the reader can see how much he has to say, but his fellow characters have to read his contributions to conversation in his journal. I liked a lot of the more minor aspects of the story; Parker’s limited social circle in the brilliantly-named Chess & War club, especially Alana with her massive feminist rant about chess, all provided plenty to like.
My problem here was mainly the love interest; Zelda is the silver-haired girl on the cover, who Parker first encounters in a hotel restaurant when he steals several thousand dollars from her, before changing his mind. Yes, the plot is slightly implausible, and that’s not even close to being the least believable bit. Whatever the deal is with Zelda (and I still wasn’t really clear on this by the end), she is pretty annoying in a Manic Pixie Girl way. She’s just that little bit too quirky and I find it hard to believe that people would find her so charming, rather than just thinking she was a lunatic and intensely annoying.
In Thanks for the Trouble‘s favour is the fact that it’s very short; I can happily live in a world where people write 276-page long novels (I am also firmly of the belief that all songs should be 3 minutes long and no film needs to be longer than 90 minutes. Society has lost the ability to be concise). This meant that, however much Zelda annoyed me, I didn’t have to read about her for very long.
Ultimately, I’d recommend this book as a quick and entertaining read. If you don’t share my aversion to Manic Pixie Girls, you’ll enjoy it a lot and, even if you agree with me that Alaska, Margo and their ilk need to be banished to a distant galaxy, Parker is winning enough to make Thanks for the Trouble worth reading.