This is a mystery (death and foul play) and a coming of age story (the growing up that a fateful summer forces upon 13-year-old Frank and his kid brot...moreThis is a mystery (death and foul play) and a coming of age story (the growing up that a fateful summer forces upon 13-year-old Frank and his kid brother), but that's only a fraction of what Krueger offers in this novel. He paints a perfect and vivid picture of the small town of New Bremen, Minnesota, in 1961. The barbershop, the drugstore with the soda fountain, kids free to roam and ride bikes to the river and all around town, a railroad trestle that draws the kids like magnets in spite of parental warnings, and Frankie's father's Methodist Church that is central to life in the town. And then there are the characters - the wonderful, "I care about every one of you" characters. From the impetuous Frank, to his perceptive-beyond-his-years brother Jake, to his musically talented sister, his disappointed-with-life mother, and his gentle war-damaged minister father - they are all memorable. And I can't forget Gus, maybe my favorite character: war buddy of the minister who lives in the church basement and does odd jobs around town - and has to get hauled out of the drunk tank in the town jail on a regular basis. But he is a steady moral compass and confidante for the boys as events unfold.
The story is narrated by Frank 40 years after the events of the story took place which makes for an interesting perspective. It combines the innocence of a young narrator with all he didn't understand and the wisdom of his older self.
This is a book about family, forgiveness, miracles. and grace (God's and human) on so many levels. The grace that can mend many things that are torn apart. A complex, compelling novel that keeps playing through my mind. It will be an all-time favorite.(less)
A glimpse! I almost see it, get it. But it slips away. Karen Green's writing tries to come to grips with her husband's suicide. She writes in fragment...moreA glimpse! I almost see it, get it. But it slips away. Karen Green's writing tries to come to grips with her husband's suicide. She writes in fragments, glimpses, poetic images. I feel the grief oozing through and the lost lives (hers and her husbands). Somehow, even though I don't get all of the imagery (I've never excelled at understanding poetry), somehow she makes me feel it. The drugs, the institutions, finding her husband hanging...
"I don't know about solace, it's deceptive. Sometimes it's not what they advise: puppy, church, working appliances. I should be more broad-minded. I am not supposed to say 'should,' I am supposed to say 'want.' I want to buy the first sand-colored place I see and breathe fresh paint fumes where I cannot hear our conversations."(less)
This book had two things going for it with me: the southern setting and the story pace that kept me ready to read to find out where we were going. The...moreThis book had two things going for it with me: the southern setting and the story pace that kept me ready to read to find out where we were going. The setting wasn't as strongly southern as I like, but the small town atmosphere and the deep family secrets kept the hint of the South alive. The story is told in alternating chapters by Cassie (a young woman who uses the unexpected inheritance of a broken down house in Tennessee to escape an unhappy life in New York City) and Constance Clyde (Cassie's grandmother). Cassie arrives in Sweetwater to a not-so-warm welcome by relatives she hasn't seen since her Mom's death when she was 3. The mysterious circumstances of the death from a car accident while riding with Cassie's grandfather haven't been fully explained, and Cassie becomes as determined to reveal the secrets as her grandmother is to keep them hidden. The love interest seems a little out of place and doesn't really advance the story at all, but I enjoyed a lot Cassie's search for her own life and closure from her past, plus the author's nod to the power of forgiveness.(less)