Litzenburger's debut novel, set in rural Michigan, involves the sad doings of families interconnected by fate and beset with accidents and misfortune.
After his wife's death, Joseph Geewa raises his adored son Jimmy, only to hear that while away at college and at the point of marriage, Jimmy has been murdered by the incipient bride's father, whom Joseph murders in turn. Released after 20 years in prison, Joseph works in the apple orchard of another widower, Swanton Robey, terribly injured in the car accident that killed his wife. Slightly less damaged is the recently divorced, burned-out EMT Ray Ford, who saves “Swan” Robey's life. The local women have far more vitality. Big, tough Grace, secretly in love with Swan, rides a Harley and relieves stress by firing the pistol she won playing pool. Grace's mother, Ramona, is a feisty old barfly whose remarks to a meddling social worker are the book's high point. When the pushy social worker recommends canasta and slide shows for retirees, Ramona flicks her cigarette and says, “Why don't you just get yourself a rifle and shoot all those seniors in the head. It'd be kinder.” Unfortunately, Litzenburger is not always as direct as her liveliest character. A portentous, high-flown voice creeps in from time to time, as at the end of the first chapter, which concludes, “His wife has been dead for exactly six months. Everything worth knowing is a secret.” Fortunately, though, the author’s ability to create distinct characters who seem like normal people who are making a good faith effort to live the best lives they can.
A story told powerfully but confusingly in the present tense and with too many flashbacks.