Elizabeth Strout begins with Tommy Guptill who once owned a dairy farm in Amgash,
Illinois. The house had burned down. His family had to move to a more run-down town. Their family went from having their home be a place that class trips came to-- --to having to see their father push a broom as a janitor at their school.
The kids were now grown, his wife 82 years old.....and as Tommy said...
"Well, they had all lived through it".
Elizabeth Strout weaves together distinctive stories where we are left to marvel at the difficulties - history -and life changing experiences of the many characters.
One of the characters that stands out for me was Patty Nicely. Patty understood that most people were only interested in themselves. Except, Sebastian, ( her Sibby, husband; no longer alive), he had been interested in her, and she had been terribly interested in him.
"This was the skin that protected you from the world – – this loving of another person you shared your life with".
Knowing about Sibby's painful childhood - and teen years deepen her own compassion and commitment to the work she did working with adolescents as a school counselor. After a student calls her 'Fatty Patty', the shifting dynamics and tensions are significant. The conclusion to this story left a deep 'thankful' lasting impression on me.
A little funny: Angelina visits her 78 year old mother, Mary. The 'entire' story emphasizes the bonds between mother and daughter....which goes deeper than the swim - funny - they are about to take:
Angelina says, "Mom, you're wearing a bikini"
"A two-piece, honey. Look around. Do you see one person wearing a one-piece? Except for you? Mary put her goggles on and walked into the water".
Wonderful imagery of windmills, cornfields, and bright soybeans in summertime,
Lovely feelings of an old fashion town with red houses, black shutters, with a swing porch, deeply moving intimate prose, psychological awakenings of characters, and we come away with ....anything is possible for anyone.
Thank You Random House, Netgalley, and Elizabeth Strout....( I LOVE YOU)