The Body Politic by Brian Platzer
New York City is still regaining its balance in the years following 9/11, when four twenty-somethings—Tess, Tazio, David, and Angelica—meet in a bar, each yearning for something: connection, recognition, a place in the world, a cause to believe in. Nearly fifteen years later, as their city recalibrates in the wake of the 2016 election, their bond has endured—but almost everything else has changed.
As freshmen at Cooper Union, Tess and Tazio were the ambitious, talented future of the art world—but by thirty-six, Tess is married to David, the mother of two young boys, and working as an understudy on Broadway. Kind and steady, David is everything Tess lacked in her own childhood—but a recent freak accident has left him with befuddling symptoms, and she’s still adjusting to her new role as caretaker.
Meanwhile, Tazio—who once had a knack for earning the kind of attention that Cooper Union students long for—has left the art world for a career in creative branding and politics. But in December 2016, fresh off the astonishing loss of his candidate, Tazio is adrift, and not even his gorgeous and accomplished fiancée, Angelica, seems able to get through to him. With tensions rising on the national stage, the four friends are forced to face the reality of their shared histories, especially a long-ago betrayal that has shaped every aspect of their friendship.
Elegant and perceptive, The Body Politic explores the meaning of commitment, the nature of forgiveness, the way that buried secrets will always find their way to the surface, and how all of it can shift—and eventually erupt—over the course of a life.
March 3rd, 2020
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The Body Politic is a unique and candid character-driven novel that dives into the complexities of marriage, friendships, careers and how interconnected our physical and emotional selves can be.
While much of the novel follows main character Tess, we also meet David, Tazio, and Angelica whos lives have been interwoven since their post 9/11 college years. We follow these characters as they navigate mental and physical health issues which are all interwoven with contemporary politics.
This book is a heavy read with dark topics and quite messy relationships. The characters are imperfect which I found could be quite frustrating at times. The jumps back in time took some getting used to but they ultimately helped build the history that helps us understand the complexities of each of these characters. Trauma and complicated pasts have not only formed who these characters are today but also their paths forward. The subtleties really are what make this book what it is.
Platzer’s writing is nuanced and layered and he shines at having his reader examine the gray of what initially could look like black and white decisions. While there are moments of frustration as the reader, this also led to great reflection. The Body Politic was one of those books that felt a little out of my comfort zone but ultimately pushed me as a reader. This would make a fascinating and timely book club discussion and I am glad to have read it.
Thank you to Atria Books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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