By Dean Bakopoulos
(Ecco Press, Hardcover, 9780062321169, June 2015, 368pp.)
The Short of It:
A very dark look at marriage in the midst of a midlife crisis. Heavily laced with tension but so hard to look away.
The Rest of It:
See that cover? Looking at it now, I’d say it hints at the trouble lurking between its pages but I bet a lot of readers picked this one up thinking it was a fun beach read. It is SO not that.
Nope. This one is about a marriage falling apart during a long, hot summer in Iowa. Don has a secret. His failures as a real estate agent have taken their toll and due to the insurmountable debt he’s created, he’s about to lose his home. Claire, aware of their financial troubles but not fully in the know over just how bad it’s gotten, doesn’t take the news all that well and becomes attracted to Charlie, who happens to be in town dealing with some property after his father’s death.
One evening, Don takes a walk in the neighborhood and meets a young woman who goes by the name ABC. She’s young and vibrant but grieving over a loss of her own. She’s working as a caretaker for a pot-smoking pistol of a lady who’s seen a thing or two in her day. ABC invites him in to light up and what seems totally out of character for Don, suddenly becomes a regular thing.
Don and Claire have so many issues. As parents, they find themselves so completely absorbed with their own problems, that they both end up leaving the house one night only to realize the next morning that they left their kids unattended.
Surprisingly, ABC and Charlie also have their own issues to deal with. These four people hook-up with each other, sometimes in surprising combinations but they are all searching for the same thing. Love, acceptance, redemption, peace.
I didn’t like Claire. She’s self-absorbed, bitchy and intent on being miserable. She’s one of THOSE people but sadly, I could relate to some of what she was going through. As Don tries his hardest to make things right, she continues to push him away and I wanted to slap her for it. Yeah, I guess I liked Don a lot.
I really loved this book. It’s dark because it paints such a real picture of a marriage in crisis but in between the crusty bits there’s hope, too. I love how the characters play off of one another. It’s so natural and effortless even though as a reader sometimes I caught myself thinking, “No! Don’t do it!”
Summer is typically a time for lighter, fluffier reads but not for me. I prefer to sink my teeth into something with a little bite and this book satisfied all my wants.
Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
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