A widowed father's recovery from grief forms the framework of Fromm's touching novel.
Young carpenter and cabinetmaker Taz and his wife, Marnie, are just scraping by financially as they attempt to rehab the dilapidated house they share in rural Montana and eagerly await the birth of their first child. And then Marnie dies in childbirth. Taz, dazed by sorrow, is left to raise baby Midge without Marnie, though frequently conjuring her ghost for conversation. His parents are no help: They've moved to New Zealand, and Taz and his father don't get along. But Taz doesn't have to raise his daughter alone. He has a cohort of caring friends and neighbors, and he gradually forms a friendship with Marnie's mother, Lauren, who flies in as often as possible to spend time with her granddaughter. Most significant is his growing relationship with the college student and part-time bartender, nicknamed “Elmo” for the resemblance of her hair to that of the Muppet, who babysits Midge. The novel leapfrogs through the first year and a half of Midge's life, landing occasionally on significant days like Christmas, Halloween, and Midge's birthday but more often exploring the texture of seemingly ordinary days as an uncertain Taz veers between despair and hope. Though readers may be appalled by how often Taz exposes Midge to the dangers of his workplaces or the mountain lakes where he takes her swimming before she can even crawl, Fromm (The Names of the Stars, 2016, etc.) eschews suspense in favor of a close study of the messy process of rebuilding a life. He pays loving attention to the details of Taz's work and to the place that is as vital to him as any human being.
A compassionate and unsentimental look at one confused young man's path through loss.