“If The Big Chill had Gen X angst, you would probably have something like Plan B. It is the story of five friends from college who are turning 30 and struggling with what it means to be an adult. Ben, the narrator, is a frustrated writer and recent divorce; Lindsey, unemployed and afraid of commitment; Chuck, a doctor and unapologetic womanizer; and Alison, a lawyer and unrequitedly in love with Ja ck, a major movie star and cocaine addict. Afraid that Jack has hit bottom with his drug habit, Ben and his friends decide to help. Plan A is an intervention, and when that fails, they go to Plan B—kidnap Jack and hole up in a cabin in the woods until he goes through withdrawal. Everything goes as planned until Jack escapes. However, Jack’s addiction is just a vehicle for Tropper in this debut novel to explore the group’s personal demons, failings, and relationships. Moreover, he does it with wit, insight, and a lot of fun cultural references to the ’80s.”
—Carolyn Kubisz, Booklist
“The background music is decidedly not Marvin Gaye but the tone is definitely The Big Chill. Four college friends launch an unusual reunion in New York City when they kidnap a drug-addicted friend. The plan, resorted to when Plan A failed, is to get their good friend and now movie star Jack Shaw to come clean long enough to get his life back on track. Given that life is not exactly on track for any of them, it is no surprise when things go awry. Coming together—and almost falling apart—give each of them a chance to recapture or let go of dreams and move on. There is Chuck, comic relief and surgeon-to-be; Alison, bright young lawyer trapped in unrequited love; Lindsey, former teacher, now queen of the temps; and Ben, the narrator, a would-be-writer without a story. Funny, sweet, and sometimes bitter, this first novel should be a popular read among twentysomethings about to turn 30. Recommended for public libraries.”
—Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll. Lib., NC Library Journal, Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“The title of Tropper’s debut novel refers to the madcap plot at its center, and also to one of the book’s primary themes—that life rarely works according to plan. Nobody knows this better than Ben, the narrator, who wants to be a novelist, but finds himself at age 30 stuck in a low-level publishing job in New York City, on the cusp of a sad and bloodless divorce, and envious of his closest college friends: Lindsey, the spirited ex-girlfriend who’s always followed her heart; attorney Alison; surgeon Chuck; and movie star Jack Shaw, who earns $13 million a picture. But Jack, it turns out, is also a cocaine addict whose drug-fueled escapades are increasingly finding their way into the tabloids. When an intervention attempt fails, his friends turn to Plan B: they kidnap Jack and keep him captive in the Catskills until he shakes his habit for good. Of course, holding a mega-celebrity against his will is no simple matter, and complications abound. Jack turns violent, then vanishes, the local-yokel sheriff’s department starts poking around and soon enough the FBI and the media are involved. Meanwhile, the remaining friends are forging new bonds (platonic and otherwise) and confronting encroaching fears of aging…Tropper keeps the story moving at a brisk pace with crackling TV dialogue.”
“Turning 30 can be a real bitch, especially if you’re Ben. The smart-guy hero of Jonathan Tropper’s comic novel about a clique of NYU alum’s trying to hold themselves together 10 years after graduation. The closest Ben, an aspiring novelist, has come to literary greatness is making lists for Esquire magazine (lists of people, clothes, music), and he compulsively lists the reasons why turning 30 is so intense. “When Kurt Cobain was my age he’d been dead for two years.” “Soon they’ll have to start sending an annual search party up my rectum to check my colon.” But there’s even more cause for panic. Ben has just undergone a divorce, and Jack, his best college buddy and now a major Hollywood star, has developed a nasty coke habit and a penchant for punching maitre d’s in the nose. Alison-the responsible Upper West Side lawyer-comes up with the idea of an intervention to save Jack from his Hollywood self and soon enough, Lindsey, the directionless beauty whom Ben has always been in love with, and Chuck the girl-crazy surgeon whose life is according to Ben, “a beer commercial.” are helping Ben and Alison smuggle their self-destructive pal up to the Catskills. When the enraged Jack busts out and goes missing, the police, the FBI and the news media besiege the house, while Ben and his friends perform small, unexpected interventions on themselves, coming clean of their own ulterior motives, past regrets and future dreams. In the end, nothing turns out as planned, but it all makes sense anyway. To Troppers credit, “PLAN B” is a bit like life-or at least, like entertainment.
—Mark Rozzo, LA Times Book Review, Sunday, February 13, 2000
“…Tropper has managed to capture five very distinct voices. The key to the novel’s success is the authentic dialogue as it pulls readers into the group…When I read McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City years ago, I realized that McInerney was going to hit big. I had the same feeling when I read Plan B, and I’ll go a step further: Tropper’s a much better writer. The plot may seem far-fetched, but I raced through the novel, thoroughly intrigued…Hollywodd will doubtless take a stab at this story, but it’s first and foremost a novel, and a very fine one indeed.”
—Ed Halloran, Denver Rocky Mountain News, August 20, 2000