Once again, Kent Haruf (Eventide, Plainsong) takes readers to the small town of Holt, Colo., where ordinary people live with daily pain and sadness, grief and joy, underpinned by compassion and concern for each other.
The centerpiece of the novel is Dad Lewis, who's dying of lung cancer. His wife, Mary, and daughter, Lorraine, are caring for him; his son, Frank, is long estranged. Neighbor Berta May has just taken in her granddaughter Alice, whose mother died of cancer. Willa and Alene Johnson do all they can to make life more pleasant for the Lewises, as well as for Berta May and Alice. Their own stories form part of the warp and woof of the tapestry that is life in Holt. Meanwhile, a new minister preaches about the Sermon on the Mount as if it should be taken seriously: turn the other cheek, love your enemies. The congregation bolts, calling him a terrorist for not hating the people with whom we are at war.
In trademark Haruf style, there is no high drama--just the playing out of life stories as they happen. The cadence and the tales are irresistible. The benediction here is that the reader is allowed to follow along. --Valerie Ryan, Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.