He’s a celebrity dentist and a prince of a guy; she’s a damaged, brilliant young woman obsessed with someone she dated in college. Can their marriage be saved?
Lizzie Bultmann, the protagonist of celebrity librarian Pearl’s (Book Lust To Go, 2010, etc.) debut novel, is the daughter of a pair of famous behavioral psychologists at the University of Michigan who raised her not as a loved one but as an experimental subject. Partly because she wants them to “wake…up enough to finally see her” for the extremely unhappy person she is, and also because she somehow thinks it will be fun, she embarks on what she calls The Great Game, in which she has sex with all 23 starters of her high school football team, one per week. Originally, she and her best friend were going to each take half, but the other girl was just joking around. Lizzie grimly executes her plan, resulting in a permanent “post-game show” in her head in which voices berate her for “what a terrible person she’d been and always would be.” The next time Lizzie has sex it is with Jack, a boy she falls madly in love with at college; they bond over their mutual admiration for the poetry of A.E. Housman. (Lots of fun literary references in this book, including a shoutout to Julie Hecht.) Two months later, Jack finds out about The Great Game thanks to an article her evil parents have published in Psychology Today. He disappears forthwith. Though Lizzie begins dating and ultimately marries a boy named George Goldrosen, she never stops thinking about Jack and never loves George. George knows she is profoundly depressed and doesn’t really love him, though he doesn’t know about either Jack or The Great Game—in any case, he's so smitten he just doesn’t care. As he’s busy becoming a famous dentist, Lizzie spends her days in the library, looking through phone books trying to find Jack. This doesn’t seem very believable, but neither does the football team thing or the mad scientist parents or even the marriage.
There’s a fairy-tale quality to the narrative voice and extreme premises of this book that some will find endearing.