by Julie HaleFebruary, 2005
The Confessions of Max Tivoli
Mitch Albom chose this inventive historical novel as his Today Show Book Club selection. Born in 1871, Max Tivoli enters the world looking like a miniature 70-year-old man. Behind the aged exterior, however, lie the persona and intellect of an infant. As Max grows up, his body gets younger and his mind gets older, so that by the time he narrates the novel a one-of-a-kind retrospective of his extraordinary life he's nearing 60, but he looks like an 11-year-old. Looking back over the previous decades, Max presents a captivating overview of San Francisco in the late 19th century, while relating his own misguided adventures in love, including his pursuit of a 14-year-old named Alice, whom he meets when he is too old on the outside to win her. Tracking her down years later, at a time when their ages are more compatible, Max marries Alice, but he is ultimately doomed to solitude due to his physical condition, which he hides from everyone, including his family. Only Max's close friend, Hughie Dempsey, knows the truth. Tinged with sadness, brightened by humor and enlivened by the author's poetic prose, this national bestseller is an incisive meditation on the nature of memory and the power of love. Whimsical, original and extremely readable, the book earned praise from a host of respected writers, including John Updike and Michael Chabon. A reading group guide is available in print and online www.picadorusa.com.