In Savko’s (Slip, 2010) emotional novel, an elderly mother and her middle-age children deal with the twists and turns of life in California in the late 1980s.
Anna, aging matriarch of the Sopko family, is in the twilight of her life and fending off her children’s suggestions that she move into an assisted living facility. The proud Czech woman, who immigrated to America when she was 17, is finding it difficult to accept the limitations and uncertainties that come with her age. Her husband, Michael, passed away years earlier after a painfully slow descent into dementia, and she can’t help but wonder what would have happened had she stayed in Czechoslovakia. Her son Peter is desperately trying to hold his own family together. Theresa, Peter’s wife, struggles with depression punctured by episodes of mania. She’s in denial, and he’s trying his best to cope with her emotional absence while taking care of their three children, daughter-in-law, and young grandson. The health of Anna’s daughter Anya has taken a turn for the worse, and her other daughter, Marya, is distant and in the closet. Anna’s great niece Danika, from Czechoslovakia, has moved to America to work as an au pair and fallen in love with Eddie, an immigrant from Mexico, but she’s taking a risky gamble with her visa. Between moments of lightness, laughter, and love—Savko’s novel isn’t all doom and gloom—everyone grapples with discontent, regret, and doubt. Savko presents a nuanced portrait of an American family that is as heartening as it is realistic. Family is no rock. It’s a garden, requiring constant care to survive the seasons. Yet these personal dramas aren’t written as idealized sap. Family members fall apart and put themselves back together again with imperfect results. Miracles are deliberately absent, and love is a many-shaded thing. But that’s the point. That’s life.
A touching tale about life, death, family, and forgiveness.