A despondent man starts life anew when he unexpectedly becomes the guardian of his infant granddaughter.
David Foley, a former Roman Catholic now comfortable with his atheism, falls into depression after his son, Patrick, is killed in the Gulf War. He moves to Louisville, Kentucky, to be closer to his pregnant daughter-in-law, Kathryn, but she also dies, in childbirth. Overwhelmed with love as he holds his orphaned granddaughter, Liesl, for the first time, David decides to adopt her. Despite these early tragedies, the novel’s tone lightens as David experiences the pratfalls of raising a child alone. When he picks up Liesl from the hospital but forgets to bring an infant car carrier, he realizes his life will never be the same. Over the next quarter century, David copes with the calamities of being a single parent while also trying to have something of a love life. He has a brief affair with a younger woman, culminating in the realization that she was using him for research for her thesis. His crankiness and humor elevate every situation he gets into. When an aggressive driver of a black station wagon confronts him, David shoots him with a taser. The protagonist then heaves the incapacitated man onto the hood of the station wagon, pulls “his pants down to his ankles,” and departs. David frequently recalls incidents from his childhood in Catholic school, but despite his open atheism (he “saw the lack of light”), he forms strong bonds with Kathryn’s Catholic family. In this moving first adult novel by Hardesty (Honey Bun and Chip, 2012, etc.), music is a constant source of inspiration for David, as is the gingko tree in his backyard, which reminds him to live life on his own terms. Despite occasionally flowery language (“I regaled in the entirety of this spectacle”) and more than a touch of low humor, this warm story highlights the sweet moments of an ordinary life. Near the end of his days, David is thankful for the women who have always been there for him—friends, family, and lovers—as he makes the most difficult decision of all.
A heartfelt parenthood tale that elicits laughter and tears in equal measure.