Future millionaire Briggs Henry has his course mapped (law degree and MBA) until an eventful summer as live-in caretaker and handyman for an elderly Serbian widow in a Lake Michigan resort town upends his plans and the bedrock assumptions they rest on.
The white teen has learned to work hard and aim high, to adopt his dad’s relentlessly upbeat demeanor, always remembering that “failure is not an option.” (His hardworking mother mostly keeps her views to herself.) Only grim Grandma Ruth, his dad’s mother, makes time to attend Briggs’ baseball games (until the bottom of the third inning). Rooted in a stressful past, the family work ethic and mandatory optimism take a toll on Briggs. They've cost him his girlfriend and given him digestive troubles. Now, between chores for eccentric Mrs. B., his new employer, and escorting her to funerals, he succumbs to laid-back, resort-town life and to Abigail, an intriguing white neighbor who questions his goals and expectations of success. Life is unpredictable, she knows; events beyond our control can change everything. All we have is now. Relinquishing his grip on what lies ahead allows Briggs to appreciate this truth—it’s an ability he’ll soon need. Observant, sarcastic, compelling, and very funny, narrator Briggs is entirely convincing and—ably abetted by an abundance of diverse characters—never less than good company.
This thoroughly enjoyable read is a seductive invitation to relax and let life happen. (Fiction. 12-17)