A tale of a 1950s American family trying to make its way in a rapidly changing world.
Henry is far from the best of fathers. After the death of his wife, he’s more concerned with entertaining his friends at the bar with his jokes and stories than he is with the well-beings of his two young sons, Paul and Arthur. He’s unable to find steady work and housing, so the trio makes its way to Nebraska, where Henry charms his way into the affections of a cute, young bartender. Lilly, in turn, finds that she cares more for Henry’s two boys than she anticipated, and she eventually agrees to move to Hollywood with Henry and little Arthur, while Paul, the eldest boy, stays behind to work at his stable job. While Henry spirals downward, working dead-end jobs and spending what little money he makes and borrows, Lilly sets out to improve her circumstances, finding herself a job working for a talent agency in Los Angeles. As the resentment festers between Lilly and Henry, the bond between Lilly and Arthur strengthens to the point where Lilly becomes Arthur’s legal guardian. With Lilly’s marriage to Michael, the owner of the talent agency, Arthur’s life becomes one of privilege and possibility, much to Henry’s chagrin. Even Paul eventually thrives away from his father’s influence, becoming a football star, then a keen businessman. But deadbeat Henry’s criminal ways begin to infiltrate his sons’ hard-won happy existences, threatening not only their futures but their very lives. Author Froehlich sketches the makeshift family’s ups and downs with compassion and ease, following each character’s development with steady pacing and intriguing details. While some may find this tale of interwoven ordinary lives a bit oversimplified, others will be drawn to the brief moments of despair and epiphany. The plot is rather quotidian and the climax, a bit melodramatic for family history, but this story of hardship and redemption still has a considerable amount of charm.
Effortless storytelling that, though rather simple, still resonates.