SURPRISE ME by Deena Goldstone
Publisher Knopf/Nan A. Talese, June 1, 2016
An unconventional love
story about two writers who see more in each other than they see in
themselves, and how that faith transforms them.
The fragile dream of becoming a writer takes hold during Isabelle Rothman’s
senior year of college. Against all advice, she begins a one-on-one tutorial
with a once highly praised novelist, Daniel Jablonski, who is known on
campus for being eccentric, difficult, and disengaged. Despite his
reputation, Isabelle loves his early novels and harbors a secret hope that
Daniel might teach her how to write such luminous prose. But their first
meeting is a disaster: Daniel is unprepared, never read the chapters she
submitted, and does not apologize. Isabelle feels dismissed and furious.
But over the semester, they gingerly form a bond that begins to anchor both
of them. And over the next twenty years, as they live very separate
lives—Isabelle in Northern California and Daniel finally settled in a tiny
New Hampshire town—they reach out to each other through emails, phone calls,
and occasional visits. Their continual connection helps Isabelle find the
courage to take risks and enables Daniel to work through layers of regret
and begin to write again. They are the single constant and the most profound
influence in each other's lives.
Daniel and Isabelle recognize they are among the blessed few who meet at the
exact moment they need each other the most. In a final collaboration, the
boundaries of teacher and student give way to a work that heals something in
each of them. They truly see each other as extraordinary—as people do when
they love—and that belief makes all the difference.