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Review: Sometimes Ya Gotta Laugh by Timothe Davis

A key ingredient to a successful movie is a fabulous soundtrack.  Not many people want to sit in a theater and listen to horrible songs no matter how great the actors.  But are soundtracks exclusive to movies?  Timothe Davis’ novel Sometimes Ya Gotta Laugh challenges this question.  His story about three best friends is set to music.

Jordan Spencer is the heart of the trio.  Jordan, who was orphaned at a young age, has difficulties forming lasting relationships.  None of his relationships have made it past six months.  However, he is close with his two friends Gabby and Chris.  They meet for happy hour, holidays, and are together on most weekends.  All of them are into the “scene” in Dallas, Texas.

One New Year’s eve, the trio attends Glenn Michael’s party.   Glenn is known for his parties and his B and C-list celebrities.  While at the party, Jordan meets Alicia Farmer.  They hook up that night, but when she stays the night, Jordan is confused.  He likes her, but he requires a lot of space.  He wants to get to know her, but he has issues letting people in.  He processes information and many people consider the time he takes to answer questions as a put-off.   And he likes relationships with no strings.  How can he reconcile all of his feelings and keep Alicia in his life?

Gabby also meets someone at the party.  Brad is a doctor and they click right away.  They have long talks on the phone and he seems like Mr. Right.  Given this, she moves more quickly than normal.  And she misses some clues early on that Mr. Perfect is in fact a nightmare.

And Chris, the chick magnet, is having a crisis of his own.  He’s in his mid-thirties and has a date with a new sexy woman almost every night.  This changes when he has a threesome with a man and a woman.  Alcohol and drugs are involved.  Chris had a drug problem in college.  Will drugs become an issue in his life again?  And when he starts to question his sexuality, his drug use increases.

At the beginning of the novel, the three friends are close.  They tell each other everything.  However, once all of them start these new journeys their friendship wanes.  Jordan wonders if he should fight to keep his friends, or is it time to let them go their own ways.   He has to figure out if Chris and Gabby are worth fighting for.

Each chapter of the novel starts off with a quote from a song.  And this snippet sets the tone for the chapter.   Like songs, the chapters are brief and only tell a small part of the big picture.  At first I found this writing style jarring.  I felt like once I settled into a new bit of the story, the author dropped it and switched gears.  However, once I adjusted to the writing style, I found that I enjoyed it.   Since the story involves the personal lives of three characters, not just one, it makes sense that not all of the details are revealed all at once.  I know when I try to keep up with my friends I learn bits and pieces from texts, emails, phone calls, and other social media.   In today’s tech savvy world, we are more used to processing bits of information and not the whole picture at once.   Davis’ novel mimics this new trend.  Using music to aid with the storytelling highlights how our lives are more complicated now, and yet how songs can also tie us together.   When you are in a club or a bar with the music blaring, there is a connection.  People react to the music, even if they don’t all do so in the same way.  Davis’ soundtrack draws the reader into the story.  It helps set the mood and fill in the gaps.

Timothe Davis’ novel is a humorous tale about how friends survive in today’s world.  At times I felt his novel would have been better if he delved deeper into the souls of the characters.  Most of  their emotions and stories only skim the surface.  Every once in a while, he lets the reader take a deeper look, but I would have preferred more.  Also, my copy of the novel included too many grammatical errors, which ended up being distracting.  At times I had to deduce the meaning of a sentence.  If a new edition of the book was free from these errors I would give the novel 4 out of 5 stars.  As is, I give it 3.5 stars.