In Pearson’s debut family drama, a retired city slicker and a runaway with a scarred past find love and happiness in a small Midwestern town.
After his wife dies of a heart attack, 50-something George Brock has “nothing to show for life but a very large bank account.” At the suggestion of his doctor, he uproots his life in New York and moves to Springfield, Missouri, where his initial fear of backward hillbillies gradually gives way to an appreciation for quiet sunsets and solitude. Although he joins the local church and makes friends, he remains lonely until fate brings him to Jenny, a 38-year-old single woman. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, she gets pregnant, and the community soon rallies around the happy couple and their twin girls, Tina and Nina. The strength of her new family leads Jenny to hunt for her mother, Edna, and siblings, Henry, Marie, and Carol, whom she left behind when she ran away from home to escape the family’s abusive patriarch. Her brother and sisters turn out to be happy to reconnect with her, and upon sensing her daughter’s return, Edna recovers from a coma. The rest of the novel details the family’s life together as they heal from a harrowing past and create a beautiful future. Pearson offers up a thoughtful critique of money-driven society by pointing to the joys that can be found in family, religion, and community. It’s a story about second chances that reaffirms the human capacity for kindness and “love for your fellow man.” However, the book suffers from poor punctuation, unclear shifts in perspective, and inconsistent pacing; for example, some chapters chronicle just a single day, while another has the twins going from kindergarten to college. None of Jenny’s siblings or their family members have distinguishing characteristics apart from Marie’s husband, who’s chronically hungry. Sometimes the book’s religious influence comes across so strongly that the book reads like a testimonial, which may limit its audience. But although this book lacks nuance and finesse, it may still be cathartic for some readers—particularly those coping with feelings of loneliness.
A touching but unevenly written story about the human spirit.