Don't judge this book by its cover! It is a fun, funny fast read and in the end both sad and hopeful.
Late one night Alex, home alone again drinks all the alcohol his father left behind when he left the family and tries to drive drunk to his father's in anger. He manages only to drive across the neighbor's lawn, behead a lawn gnome and give himself a concussion and a severe case of alcohol poisoning. He is lucky to be alive. He is lucky to not have killed any one. He will not be able to get his driver's license for several years. He has to do community service in an area nursing home which smells like rotten turkey and lysol.
He is assigned to Sol Lewis, elderly and Jewish whose sense of humor and use of yiddish phrases is hard for Alex to appreciate or even understand. At first he focuses on playing poker and reading with Sol. Until he stumbles on Sol's and his mutual interest in jazz guitar. Alex is so self centered at the start that he doesn't realize that his long time friend Laurie is now in love with him, doesn't ask Sol about his past life and interest in jazz or about the daughter Judy who never visits and never picks up the Hannukkuh Flowers Sol buys for her. Sol has emphysema and is so old he actually knew jazz greats from the 30's. No one fights to live forever and it is inevitable that Sol won't always be around. But, he teaches Alex many life lessons in his wonderful funny "gotcha" way and Alex in turn helps a reconciliation between him and his estranged daughter.
Don't be a meshuggener - read this!