When Haze Evans, the Granite Greek Gazette’s columnist of 50-plus years, suffers a stroke, the paper’s editor, Susan McGrath, chooses to reprint one of her columns each day while hoping for her return to health.
Haze is a master at chronicling current events and interlacing them with memories from her life to form a poignant social commentary. She opens her heart to her readers and they grow to love her...although some are less tolerant of her open-book style, referred to as “puking on paper,” and others resent the political bent she reveals, earning her the name Radical Hag, which she cheerfully adopts while printing yummy recipes to offset her viewpoint. Her decades-old columns make a difference in the lives of a new generation of readers, especially Susan’s rebellious 15-year-old son, Sam. When Haze is in the hospital, Susan makes Sam, who’s at loose ends after his parents’ divorce, work at the Gazette, where he is charged with reading Haze’s old columns and choosing which ones to reprint. Finding nothing appealing in an old person’s writing, Sam fights the assignment but is inevitably drawn to Haze’s down-to-earth views. She piques his curiosity with the timelessness of her insights, and he shares her columns with his English class, which discusses them on Radical Hag Wednesday. Sam’s curiosity prompts him to snoop a bit in Haze’s office, leading him to a deep secret that she never shared with her readers and that brings new closeness to his relationship with his mother.
Landvik (Once in a Blue Moon Lodge, 2017, etc.) uses wisdom and her trademark humor to encourage readers to have a thoughtful response to the world and the people with whom they share it. A pleasure to read.