In this novel, a young woman discovers her grandfather’s past and wrestles with a few secrets of her own.
One snowy day in Chicago, 78-year-old Jerome James slips on ice, hits his head, and lands in the emergency room. Accompanying him is his granddaughter Marci, who’s abashed to discover that she doesn’t know anything about her Grandpappy—not what medicines he takes, what ailments he might have, or certainly anything about his childhood. A historic blizzard confines Marci and Jerome to the hospital for the foreseeable future, and she sees her chance: she asks him to tell her about how he grew up, and he obliges. His parents were immigrants, he says, slowly learning English and socking money away when a tragic series of events leaves his father dead and the family penniless. Desperate, his mother turns to prostitution to get by, and little Jerome experiences hardship and violence far beyond his years. Between visits to Jerome, Marci strikes up a friendship with an attractive doctor named Chad Good, whom she keeps running into around the hospital. They bond over their mutual love of children (Chad is a pediatrician; Marci is an aspiring elementary school teacher), and she starts falling for him. But she’s hiding a secret that tethers her to her narcissistic surfer ex-boyfriend, Lucas, and Chad’s previous fling, a brash woman named Joy, threatens to interfere. Will Marci sort out her feelings, and will Jerome ever make it out of the hospital? Healy (Adapt, 2015, etc.) manages to make the hospital cozy rather than suffocating as the book’s predominant setting, and the rare blizzard, beautiful and austere, sets the mood for life-changing events to happen. The author combines her story’s elements gracefully: “She marveled at the lush green, hearty plants separated from the harsh winter by a window, with nothing in common except a glass wall. It is just like my great grandmother and me, she thought. So different and separated by time and experiences.” But Marci and Chad’s burgeoning attraction—and its complicating factors—can get a bit maudlin: the plot features compromising photos that aren’t what they look like and a surprise marriage proposal. Joy is especially one-dimensional, a woman who screeches and wears “a skintight, low-cut shirt”—the very picture of immoral, undesirable womanhood.
A wholesome tale of reconnecting with family and finding true love.