In a small Missouri town, a widower finds solace by reaching out to other troubled souls.
Arthur Moses, 85, goes every day to the cemetery to eat his lunch at his late wife Nola’s grave. At night, he dines on whatever canned goods he can cobble together, tries to prevent his cat, Gordon, from running away, and dodges the busybody next door, Lucille, who keeps trying to entice him onto her front porch with her delicious baked goods. (This book depicts so many luscious-sounding confections it should come with its own FDA label.) One day at the cemetery, Arthur meets Maddy, a teenager with a nose ring, who hangs out there. They strike up a friendship born of mutual isolation, and she dubs him “Truluv” for his enduring devotion to Nola. As the point of view shifts among these three characters, we learn that Maddy, now a senior in high school, has been ostracized by her classmates. Her problems stem in part from the fact that her father, who raised her alone, irrationally blames her for her mother’s death in a car crash soon after her birth. A retired schoolteacher, Lucille, also in her 80s, never married because Frank, her high school true love, wed someone else. However, Frank has recently resurfaced and is trying to rekindle romance in their twilight years. Maddy’s social life consists of hookups with an older man she met at Wal-Mart, and one of these trysts leaves her pregnant. When her father urges her to terminate the pregnancy, she takes refuge at Arthur’s house. He and Lucille become Maddy's surrogate parents, and, by taking over housekeeping chores, Maddy helps them age in place. Both are childless and look forward eagerly to the birth of the baby, giving Maddy the unconditional moral and financial support she has always craved. The life-affirming messages are far from subtle, and the fine line between sensitivity and sentimentality is often breached.
Aims for profound but settles for pleasant.