In this inspirational debut novel, a man dreams that his dead mother comes back to spend a day with the family.
Family is incredibly important to Greg Peters. When he gets a call from his stepmother saying his father has had a heart attack, his world is thrown off its axis. Greg rushes to the hospital and waits for news, recalling all the memories he has of his father, mother, brothers, and grandparents and how these people shaped the man he has become. He learns his father will have to undergo a triple bypass. “With his years of smoking and his COPD,” a doctor tells Greg and the rest of the family, “there are a lot of risks and challenges ahead. It’s by no means going to be an easy procedure.” Though his father survives the surgery, complications force him to stay in the hospital for months. Greg continues to see him and to reflect on their time together. One day, while sleeping in his father’s hospital room, Greg has a dream in which he returns to the family cottage and sees his mother, who has been dead for 14 years. He asks: “How is it that I’m standing here looking and talking to my mom?” She replies: “I have no idea either, Greg. But here I am, and you have me for the day.” With the members of his family back together for one day, can Greg say all the things he wants to tell them? Howard’s prose is simple and sentimental, and he creates a warm sense of nostalgia with the numerous flashbacks to Greg’s youth. At one point, the protagonist recalls a valuable pep talk from his father: “Ever since you were fourteen years old, I watched you at trade shows, interacting with people, and I could tell back then that you have what it takes…I could see the drive and determination you had at everything you did. There’s no doubt you are one special kid.” But the flashbacks are sometimes too boilerplate to captivate, and they do little to invigorate the plodding frame of the narrative. By the time the dream begins (and the audience will be well aware that it is a dream), readers will likely have lost any investment they had in the novel’s outcome.
A heartfelt but uneven tale about age and loss.