About the Book

Book Protagonist: Sasha Grady Blake
Publication Date: 2010
Genre: Coming of Age


A Visit from the Goon Squad

By Jennifer Egan

‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ by Jennifer Egan follows a multi-style narration where some are done in the first person, some in the second, and others in the third person. The book consists of 13 chapters and each tells a complete, independent story with a different protagonist of its own.

In the book’s opening plot, Bennie Salazar, a former punk rockstar turn record producer, and Sasha Grady Blake, his assistant appear to be the two characters to which tenths of other later characters are connected. The book spans fifty years – from the 1970s to the 2020s – and the stories are not nearly as chronologically arranged as one might expect, but that all adds to the overall excitement and creativity in the book. Here’s all you need to know about the plot of Jennifer Egan’s ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad.’

‘Spoiler Free’ Summary of A Visit from the Goon Squad

As Sasha Grady sits with her therapist, dissecting the many ways to overcome her kleptomania, she recounts all the times she had shamelessly taken from her family, friends, and strangers.

Sasha is many things, but poor is not one of them. But this is a mental health issue. So it seems. But she is not the only one with such issues. So did her boss of 12 years. And all their other equally passionate punk rock music fanatic friends who go way back to the 70s. Scotty, Rhea, Jocelyn, Drew, Rob… all of them. 

Like Sasha, the time has hit them so hard into submission and resignation. But for Sasha, yes, she might have spent her youth living on the edge. She might have brought disgrace to her family and friends with her shameless pilferings. But this time, all she wants is one last late chance to get her life together and do one honorable thing for a change. If not for her interest, then for the interest of her children unborn.

Full Summary of A Visit from the Goon Squad

Warning – This article contains important details and spoilers

Part A (Chapters 1 – 6)

Sasha books a date with her therapist with the hope of finding a permanent solution for her kleptomania, the reason she would lose her job as Bennie’s assistant. During her session, she recalls two stealing incidents; the first was a lady’s purse at an eatery which she returned after being cornered. The second was done on Alex, her date, at her house.

In the next chapter, Bennie, a forty-something years old music producer, and his son Christopher attend an indoor music performance by his band, and everyone – including his now assistant Sasha – attends. As the beat plays, the normally frigid Bennie is feeling some sort of arousal, but a series of humiliating thoughts snap him out of it as he drives home wife his son – dropping Sasha at her place.

We are taken aback to the late 70s, where two friends – Rhea and Jocelyn – have heavily invested interest in punk rock. While Rhea, a very fanatic punk rocker, has self-esteem issues and feels less beautiful because of her facial dots, Jocelyn, a beautiful but naive underage girl, is sharing a carnal knowledge with rock music icon, Lou – and would eventually elope with him. But before that happens, the girls get him to attend their friend Bennie’s show with his rookie band, ‘The Flaming Dildos,’ an event that would see Lou take Bennie under his wing resulting in Bennie’s later success in the industry.

Chapter four opens with Lou out on vacation on the safari with his two children – a boy named Rolph and a girl named Charlie, his girlfriend Mindy, and two other entourages. On the trip, Mindy clashes with Lou as she can’t seem to get along with his children, and when a chance show of bravery proves Albert (one of the entourages) a bigger man after he guns down a lion about to attack them, Mindy, who feels charmed by the event, secretly makes out with him (Albert). Lou’s enraged but later wins his girl back (and based on the flashforward in this chapter) – even weds her and have two children together before they divorce. The foreseeable future isn’t as great either for Lou’s children – as Rolph will die first from a disconnect from his father, and later from suicide. Charlie will go to law school and later, out of wedlock, have a son she will secretly call Rolph.

The next chapter sets in a few decades forward with Lou now old and on his dying bed. As the women stand over him and catch up, a clear picture is painted of how much has happened since they last saw each other; Rhea is married with kids, and Jocelyn has gone back to live with her mother and enrolled for a degree in UCLA at age 43. Jocelyn still holds resentment toward Lou for wasting an important part of her life and wishes him death, but Rhea seems to interfere to calm the tension. They layer help Lou outside to a pool area, and – on Lou’s request – the three of them hold hands in one final act of unity and forgiveness.

The final chapter of part A takes us back into Scotty’s life after he and Bennie went their separate ways around chapter two. Scotty is living like a failure, withdrawn from social life, and finds new joy in fishing, but he still loves music and occasionally plays. One day Scotty pays a visit to his old friend Bennie but is left devastated by how successful Bennie has become. As they talk, there is a sort of bad blood between them as back in the day, Scotty won the battle for Alice and married her (although they would later divorcé catastrophically), to Bennie’s despair. Scotty then leaves with Bennie’s business card and a faint hope of contacting him in the future about a possible music project.

Part B (Chapters 7 – 13)

Part B opens with Bernie moving to Crandale with his PR wife Stephanie, but both can’t seem to fit into the bigoted neighborhood because Bennie is Latino and Stephanie is a tattooed woman. Stephanie’s older brother and ex-convict Jules ( he was a journalist imprisoned for attempting rape on his source) – who also stays with them – accompany her to Bosco’s, a once punk music icon now sick, bloated, and dying, but wants one last concert where he pushes himself and dies poetically on the stage. Jules thinks it’s a good idea, has an interest, and wants to write about it – even though Stephanie feels otherwise. Returning home that night, Stephanie accidentally finds her tennis friend Katty’s bobby pin on the floor as Bennie goes to use the bathroom – confirming her suspicions he’d been cheating on her.

Chapter two of part B brings the story of a former famous PR consultant, Dolly Peale, who has this one job of selling a genocidal General. Personally, Dolly needs this work to set her career back on track after her last event left several celebrities going home with massive burns. She travels with her daughter Lulu and actress Kitty – who is supposed to only pose for the camera with the General but goes off spotlighting him about the genocide event. Kitty is taken away by the General’s entourage as Dolly flees with her daughter. She would never return to her PR job again and would instead travel to a remote neighborhood seeking a fresh start as a burger store owner. 

Stephanie’s brother Jules Jones narrates the next chapter in the form of a magazine article he wrote from jail. Jules details the interview he did on Kitty and how he got a little personal (comparing her with his ex-fiancé) – leading to the part where he attempted rape on her. Kitty, however, wrote him apologizing for what transpired between them – an act which further made the actress more popular. 

Rob tells the next story – taking us back to the days of him, Sasha, and Drew studying at New York University. Rob is gay and has mental health issues, and had attempted suicide in the past. While the three of them are close-knot friends, Sasha seems to confide in Rob but secretly loves Drew. After catching the Conduit concert one day, while Sasha meets and talks (for the first time) with Bennie, her friends Rob and Drew stroll down to East River, where Rob leaks Sasha’s decadent past lifestyle in Naples. Drew is distraught and goes solo-swimming in the river, and as Rob trails behind him, he is unlucky and drowns. 

Sasha’s Uncle Ted Holland narrates the next chapter and talks about how he’s being paid ( by Sasha’s stepfather ) to track Sasha down in Naples. Ted – who is a man of art – is distracted from his main quest and begins visiting museums and viewing fascinating artworks. By chance, he stumbles into Sasha in the street and convinces her to meet up and talk. When this happens, both talk about their problems and soon go to the club, where Sasha steals his wallet and flees. Ted can trace her home and get her to return his wallet. As they sit together and look out the window – enjoying the warming blaze from the sun, we are taken into the future where Sasha is married and have two kids Uncle Ted will visit her, and both will share similar scenarios again.

The next chapter takes us several decades into the future, where Sasha’s daughter Alison tells the story of her family in a PowerPoint slide. She talks about the general mood in her family and how her busy doctor father, Drew, doesn’t seem to get along well with her autistic little brother Lincoln (whom she loves so much). And after he makes Lincoln cry so hard one day, Alison advises him to try working on the great pauses of rock music – as he (Lincoln) loves that. Alison has a mental health issue of her own, and something has pessimistic revelations about her family.

The concluding chapter returns us to Alex but in the future, and this time he and Dolly’s daughter Lulu (now a grownup) work with Bennie to sell Scotty Hausman’s upcoming concert via social media. Scotty had resigned from his janitorial job and returned to making music. On the day, Scotty has a fit because of the large crowd, but Lulu walks onto the stage with him as he plays. The concert is a hit, and they will be remembered for many years to come. Bennie and Alex take a walk; Bennie talks about Sasha and how he misses her. Alex can’t quite recall the details about her but seems to remember when they coincidentally walk into the building where Sasha had lived. But not anymore. As some new girl named Taylor comes out of the door playing with her keys.


What is Egan’s ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ about?

A Visit from the Goon Squad’ by Jennifer Egan is a book that captures the brutal reality of time flashing before people’s eyes, and they sometimes have to watch their dreams and aspirations disappear and unaccomplished.

How long does it take to reach ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ by Jennifer Egan?

It only takes a few hours to start and finish ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad,’ however, you might be required to spend extra hours revisiting previous pages and come back to current ones to be up to speed with all the characters and their role in the book. 

Is ‘Goon Squad’ a hard book to read?

Across its use of non-linear story chronology and multiple narrative styles, ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’ can be tagged as a relatively harder book to read than the average book.

Who are the foundational characters in ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’?

Record producer Bennie Salazar and his assistant Sasha Grady Blake are the two foundational characters from whom all the other fleet of characters are connected. 

Victor Onuorah
About Victor Onuorah
Victor is as much a prolific writer as he is an avid reader. With a degree in Journalism, he goes around scouring literary storehouses and archives; picking up, dusting the dirt off, and leaving clean even the most crooked pieces of literature all with the skill of analysis.
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