Review – Congratulations on Everything by Nathan Whitlock

Posted March 23, 2022 by Carole in Reviews / 6 Comments

I received this book for free from the Library, Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review – Congratulations on Everything by Nathan WhitlockCongratulations On Everything by Nathan Whitlock
Narrator: Braden Wright
Published by ECW Press on May 10, 2016
Genres: Fiction / Literary
Length: 9 hours 38 minutes
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: Library, Publisher
Goodreads
Amazon | Audible | B&N | Kobo | Libro.fm
three-stars

A dark and comic novel, Congratulations On Everything tracks the struggles, frailties and cruelly pyrrhic victories of the middle-aged owner of a bar-restaurant and a 30ish lunch shift waitress. 

 Jeremy has bought into the teachings of an empowerment and success guru, hook, line and sinker. A Toronto service industry lifer, he's risen through the ranks until he finally takes the keys to his destiny and opens his own place, The Ice Shack. 

Everyone assumes Ice Shack daytime waitress Charlene is innocent and empathetic, but in reality she's desperately unhappy and looking for a way out of her marriage to her high-school sweetheart. A drunken encounter between Charlene and her boss Jeremy sends them both careening. The Ice Shack stops being an oasis of sanity and, as Jeremy struggles to keep his business afloat, he'll stop at nothing to maintain his successful, good guy self-image. 

 In an era when foodies rule and chefs become superstars, Congratulations On Everything is a hilarious and occasionally uncomfortable dose of anti-foodie reality that reveals what goes on when the customers and Instagrammers aren't around — and even sometimes when they are.

I liked this book. I am always looking for something different and this sounded like it might fit the bill. It was an interesting enough story and it held my attention but I wouldn’t say that I was ever completely taken by the story. I am glad that I finally decided to give this book a try.

This is a meandering story of a man who owns his own bar, The Ice Shack. Jeremy has his own keys and everything. This story takes us on a tour illustrating some of the things that happen during the operation of this establishment. I am not going to lie, I didn’t like Jeremy much, and the decisions that he makes often left me cringing. We do get to know several of the regulars and staff, Charlene more than most. Charlene is in a marriage that isn’t working for her anymore. I can’t say that I liked her character much either. I will say that many of the characters, while unlikeable, felt authentic.

I believe that this is the first time that I have listened to Braden Wright’s narration and I thought that he did a great job with this audiobook. He did a great job with the various character voices and had a very pleasant voice. I found his narration easy to listen to and had no trouble listening to this book for hours at a time. I believe that his narration added to my overall enjoyment of the story.

I found this to be a realistic story that took a closer look at the people connected to a small establishment as they went through their life. They don’t always make the best decisions and go through a lot of ups and downs over the course e of the story. This book wasn’t a favorite but I did enjoy it.

I received a digital review copy of this book from ECW Press and borrowed a copy of the audiobook.

About Nathan Whitlock

Nathan Whitlock’s award-winning fiction and non-fiction has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, Toronto Life, Report on Business, Flare, Fashion, Geist, Maisonneuve, and Best Canadian Essays, and he has appeared on radio and television discussing books and culture. Heather O’Neill called A Week of This, Whitlock’s first novel, “a portrait of people in a small town so intimate that it feels like you are under the covers with them.” He is a contributing editor for Quill & Quire. He lives in Toronto with his wife and children.

6 responses to “Review – Congratulations on Everything by Nathan Whitlock

  1. I love when I find a new narrator I enjoy. I’m not sure this book is for me but it is nice to see owning a small business portrayed in a realistic light.