"I can't remember the last time a book was written so well that it brought such genuine emotion. I found myself laughing out loud, wiping away tears and I even punched my computer desk once in anger."
"It is really hard to write a true comic novel. That’s why there are so few of them. Most attempted comic novels are either just a bunch of strung-together rants and comedy sketches, or they’re novels but not actually funny. “Effed-Up” is a real-deal comic novel. It’s a superbly-crafted human-scale tale of one man’s journey into the heart of darkness that raised him...and it’s funny. It makes you grin or chuckle or really laugh out loud. On pretty much every page.
Sometimes it’s mean-funny, with graceful stinging portraits of failed human beings. Sometimes it’s raunchy-funny, with ornate journeys through the mind and mechanics of a hero involved in lustful encounters that are ridiculous, or passionate, or both. Sometimes it’s witty and clever. Sometimes, it’s just daft.
The truly inspiring thing is that Russ Woody does all that while creating a fully-realized domestic drama about a guy in his 30s being forced to finally confront his effed-up family, while trying to hold on to an unexpected and real love. He weaves in brief, incisive flashbacks and sober moments of haunting everyday humanity. All the stuff you want in a book, plus madness.
He keeps you off-balance, in the best possible way. You’re amused and intrigued and you want to know what happens next. You recognize all the characters, and yet you feel for them because he’s never letting anything settle into a pigeonhole. Best of all, he writes beautifully. His language is conversational but really smart, twisty and inventive but always clear and narrative. You don't want to stop turning the pages, but you slow down to savor the great lines and the sweet or crazy moments.
It’s a rare thing, a comic novel. Grab this one."
AMAZON BOOK REVIEW
"A wickedly funny dysfunctional family by one of Hollywood's best comedy writers -- who needs to get in therapy quick."
AUTHOR OF The Me Generation
"The story bounces back and forth between stories of the Robert's childhood, and his current predicament, in the hospital with his dying mother. The characters are twisted, hate runs through their veins. Robert is the only one who seems to be somewhat normal, and that says a lot.
You'll read this book, and realize your life isn't as bad as it could have been compared to Robert. Getting to know Robert throughout this his effed up life, was an adventure I'm glad I embarked on. I found it humorous, enough to laugh out loud at some parts. Robert's life is so accurate to so many people out there, you can't help but feel the frustration he feels.
I really appreciated the vocabulary Woody uses throughout the book, it definitely kept me interested. Of course, with a vocabulary like his, there were no spelling or grammar issues, as expected. The title itself was interesting enough for me to pick this book up, I wish it had a better cover to match."
"No one chooses the family that they are born into, but when you see one such as in this book, you wish you had the ability to do so. Completely lives up to the title, it is politically incorrect at times yet you laugh from crying, really takes dysfunctional to a whole new level. A definite page turner, Russ Woody gives the reader a story that will not only make you laugh from disbelief but also make you grateful for the one that you have.
Told by the perspective of Robert Nirth, you really grow to feel the guy. He’s the one who seems to be there when things are tough but isn’t really appreciated. A likable character, trying to make it through life, gets brought back into the drama that constantly cycles with his family. Afraid that history might repeat itself, he tries his hardest to separate himself and try to break the influences that keep creeping back into life.
The main source of his frustration is definitely Helen, his mother, who probably is the root of his problems with women. Runner up to mommy dearest, she seems to constantly center her life on her own needs and wants with no consideration to the feelings of others. Definitely someone that you wish her mouth could be zipped shut, says things that make her so unlikable most of which is insensitive and offensive.
As you get to know his father, Paul, you feel for him. You know the type who is married to someone who just accepts the doomsday package of this is what marriage is supposed to be like. He just sort has dealt with things without a fight. This was the type of life he lived. His life just seemed empty without an identity. When tragedy struck, it was then that Robert realized how empty his father’s life was. On a search to get to know who he really was, he not only learned about whom he was, how much he adorned and loved him but also gave him a different perspective other than what he had been led to believe.
Then we have his siblings. Lenny, a wannabe rockstar whose band is a knock off seems too old to be living a life that is going nowhere. Despite being perfect in the eyes of his mother, little does she know the contempt he has as he plots and schemes to find ways to get her money. Then there is Darlene, which really is the apple that didn’t fall to far from the tree. It seems like instead of the cycle being broken, she continued it with her own family. Funny how much she despises her mother, but if she looked into the mirror, there would be a carbon copy.
There is so much more that you take away from reading this book that I don’t want to spoil for you. Overall, I thought it was a really good story that really makes you think about your family when you read one like this. You really appreciate yours if you have a good one. The characters were definitely interesting making this quite the interesting read. Just to let you know, there are some moments that the characters say things that might offend here or there if you are sensitive to language but otherwise, I think you will enjoy this book."
"Funny, tragic and warm... all at once. For those looking for a definition of 'family'."
"This is a real modern family. Russ Woody is hilarious, insightful, and hilariously insightful."
AUTHOR OF Dog Days
"Effed Up is so humorous, it will make the reader laugh out loud. The characters are so absurd, so flawed, and yet so real, that the story is both completely fantastical and chillingly realistic. As much as the reader will laugh, she will also cry—tears of outrage, sorrow, frustration (at how dense Robert’s family is about their ridiculousness), and finally, joy. There are aspects of the characters and moments in the family dynamic that are guaranteed to ring true to everyone at one point or another.
While situations may be drastically different, the emotions Woody invokes about love, family, and friends will resonate with readers from all walks of life. In the end, the story is about one man’s journey to finding himself and learning what true family means."
BARNES & NOBLE REVIEW
"Wow. I finished this book in one sitting; it was just too good to put down. Russ Woody, author of Effed Up, is an amazing writer. This book has some of the best character development I have ever read. The author paints a picture with words so vivid that you can see the characters and feel their emotions coming off the page.
The dysfunctional family is a pretty common theme, but in this book, it is taken to a whole new level. The main character is the focal point of the insanity of his family as they all look to him to clean up their emotional baggage. Woody has captured the essence of family history, where a look, a word, even a sigh can unleash a whole cascade of intense emotions between members of the same family.
The book is both funny and achingly sad. Looking at the missed opportunities as well as the pain and suffering parents can inflict on their children, I am glad that in the end there was a happily ever after."
"Reasons you should read this book:
1. Chapter 1 is one of the funniest first chapters ever. It sets the tone perfectly.
2. Who dies and how they die (shock and LOL)
3. The graveside funeral scene
4. All discussions with the brother-in-law
5. The scene where Robert finally connects with his father
Effed Up is a seriously dark and hilarious snapshot of a family who loses the one person who holds them all together. It's a story of enabling dysfunction, a look at cyclical behavior proving the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and a demonstration of coping by doing what's easiest through placation and avoidance. There are so many relatable stories - just maybe not quite at the level that is described. This book will either make you feel good about your family or normal that someone else experiences what you have experienced.
One interesting concept that I especially grasped onto was the idea of wallowing in what you didn't or don't have rather than celebrating what you do have.
The characters in the book:
Mom who punishes the world for her life
Dad who puts up with mom and seems to be a wallflower
Oldest brother who is a loser
Older sister who lives a facade life that is on the brink of crashing around her
Narrator youngest son who has avoided his family until he cannot anymore
I lost track of how many times I laughed out loud (waking up my husband or getting weird stares from my kids). The writing is genuine and quite good. I loved the descriptions, the perfect amount of detail, and the cynicism. I also really appreciated the transformation of the narrator. Where he gets to in the end felt good to him and to me as the reader.
Warning that if you do not like foul language or explicit descriptions of sex, or you don't like to read about not perfect families, you should not read this book and then rate it badly because you don't like these things. Inform yourself before you read, please!
If you enjoy dark comedy and twisted reality, and can appreciate dysfunctional families, then read this book!"
AMAZON BOOK REVIEWER
"Effed up! Story of a Family by Russ Woody is an amazingly hilarious novel about a more than dysfunctional family. Woody characters in this novel are so well defined and as the reader you will relate to each and every character at some point in the story.
Effed Up focuses on Robert's life and how he interacts with his crazy family. He has a mother who is me me me and goes off on everyone at the drop of a dime. His brother is an old want to be rock star with a drug and drinking problem. And his sister an alcoholic Christian who doesn't think she has a drinking problem.
Woody takes all of these characters and gives the reader one heck of an adventure. Take a chance to discover that happens ti Robert as he is the only one in the family that seems somewhat normal.
Family means everything to him and it's hard being in a family that only thinks and acts for themselves. The novel is short, sweet and to the point. I cannot wait to read more of Woody's work."
GOODREADS BOOK REVIEWER