The lives of two Southern siblings, comfortably relocated to California but partnerless and childless, are transformed by an unlikely friendship.
In a readable, discursive, not especially eventful story, Kincaid (As Hot As It Was You Ought to Thank Me, 2005, etc.) explores ideas of family and connection via Truely and Courtney Noonan, born and raised in the Deep South, who grow up to move beyond their parents’ expectations and codes. Rebellious Courtney’s decisions to quit college, move to California, then move in with a wealthy, older property developer are difficult for her traditional-minded parents to accept. Truely’s choice to follow his sister west deepens the wounds. Truely becomes a high-tech entrepreneur and marries Jesse, but the relationship fails as, eventually, does Courtney’s. Truely’s next long involvement, with Shauna, also falls apart, but not before he is sucked into her family’s problems when her brother Gordo is badly wounded in Iraq. Gordo’s troubled young black friend Arnold becomes an initially unwelcome lodger in Truely’s loft and Courtney takes him under her wing, tutoring him for the GED. Truely’s role as a surrogate father only deepens when Gordo, recuperating in a VA hospital, tries to commit suicide, an act which implicates Arnold and results in his arrest. Now Truely realizes how much Arnold is a part of his life and “family”; a combination of his money and Gordo’s doing the right thing eventually liberates Arnold to go “home” with Truely.
An engaging but overlong and not wholly convincing lesson in opening up to commitment.