Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins
Setting aside for a moment the fact that Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins by Katarina Bivald (Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend) is narrated by a ghost, readers will find the novel perfectly captures the joys and trials of small-town living. Layer over that Bivald's choice of narrator--the spirit of Henny, a young woman recently killed in a freak car accident--and the book becomes more than the sum of its parts, a nuanced story of life and death, legacy and love.
"I mourn for the people we were and the people we were forced to become and everything we could be again, if only we had more time," laments Henny. And so she uses her extra time--spent in an ethereal and invisible state--to linger among her friends and family, pushing them each toward some kind of peace as best she can: her father, a questionably homophobic old man who slips into a curmudgeonly solitude following his daughter's death, and his nosy church-going neighbor. The one-time local high school football star and his unhappy wife. And most importantly, her friends: Michael, her high school love; MacKenzie, her best friend and coworker at the motel; and Camila, inheritor of the motel. Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins is somewhat slow to build, but as each of these characters comes to terms with both the individual and collective loss of Henny, the novel picks up momentum, culminating in a story full of both hope and heart. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm