Where to begin? I suppose I should start with the word "heartwarming" which is a term I normally shudder; books that aim in that direction usually make me squirm and the fact that it never happened here says much about Kluger's narrative skill. And second, I have rarely encountered a book that made me laugh with delight on almost every page. I should also mention that I've never before encountered a book that so perfectly defined what being a father figure is all about.
Many readers will complain that the whole tale is way too over-the-top, that many of the characters are overdone and unrealistic, especially Charlie, Joey, Hazel, the Rabbi ... and on it goes. To which I say: Who cares? They're just too wonderful to miss. The story and the characters could have been taken right out of Damon Runyon and what's not to like about that? Others will object to the structure, consisting entirely of snippets of letters, telegrams, notes etc. Again, who cares?
I have one beef about the edition I read: It bears a reviewer's comment on the front cover calling the book "A modern-day Catcher in the Rye". Comparing Joey Margolis to that neurotic prig Holden Caulfield?! Outrageous!