To Laugh Well: A Novel

JC Alaimo
Narrator: Josh Horowitz

Alexander Biden is a promising and athletic young man at the start of this book, with a stable girlfriend and a good relationship with his mother and sister. Alex spends his freshman year at Augustine University in Ohio in a haze, filled with booze, weed, pharmaceuticals, and sex. Unrealistically, he maintains decent grades while in this hazy state, keeping a 4.0 average while partying until 5 am. He’s dealing with anxiety and depression, and even some OCD behaviors at the start of this audiobook, but those OCD behaviors mysteriously disappear in the first half. He self-medicates with the drugs and skips classes when needed. Unfortunately, his roommates are immature and provide the impetus for Alex’s downward spiral. His philosophy professor only exacerbates this spiral. His friends try to help him, but by then, it’s too little and too late.

This story needs to be told, and this voice needs to be heard at this time in America, when mental health issues are finally being acknowledged and talked about more openly. The story takes a while to find its footing. Its pacing is erratic, and the situations are difficult, but necessary for the flow of the story. For a good portion of this audiobook, the direction isn’t clear.  However, “To Laugh Well” will likely resonate with young adult readers and has an important, relevant message. Listeners with young adult children may be dismayed at the choices that Alex makes and the consequences of those choices. However, this haunting story enables the listener to take this journey with Alex and experience the ending with him. 

There are no issues with the narration or with extraneous noises in the recording quality.  The main characters are easily distinguishable, although some of the supporting characters sound very similar.

Carey Sullivan