Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Before I read this book, I knew that it was the darling of some critics, and that’s about it.  In fact, the title somehow made me think it would be funny.  Oh, man, was I ever wrong.  A beach read this is not.  It’s not weepy, either, thank heavens, but it is extremely tragic.  On the morning of her daughter’s wedding in Connecticut, June watches as her home explodes, killing her boyfriend Luke, her daughter, her daughter’s fiancé, and June’s ex-husband.  An old gas stove appears to have been the culprit, but somehow most of the townspeople have shifted the blame to Luke, because he served a prison term for a dubious drug conviction.  After managing to get through the funerals, June embarks on a road trip to the West.  This novel is told from the standpoint of about a dozen or so characters at both ends of the country, all of whom have some sort of sad history.   Fitting all of them together into this puzzle of a book was a challenge but not necessarily an overwhelming one.  Perhaps the saddest character is Lydia, mother of Luke.  She has a lot to atone for, and now Luke is gone, so that she can never fully make amends, at least as far as her son is concerned.  We also have Silas, a teenager who worked for Luke.  The author dangles a tantalizing carrot for us, constantly suggesting that Silas possesses secret information about the explosion.  Silas is too young to bear this heavy a burden, and I was concerned for his well-being and survival.  This book has not only a staggering amount of guilt in it, but also a mountain of regret for words not said before it was too late.

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