By Chevron Ross
Published January 2022
78-year-old Len Holder looks back on his life and sees only youthful hopes buried under decades of mediocrity. He blames his mother, who can’t even leave him in peace after she dies. Literally. Seven years after he buried her, she reappears in his living room humming a silly tune, with no memory of where she’s been or how she got there. Len certainly isn’t going to ask; it might set her off on another vitriolic rant and he’s heard enough of them to last a lifetime. Instead, he calls in sick to work.
Not only is his mother’s presence inexplicable, but she’s much healthier than she was in the months before her death. Other oddities pop up during the next few days, including his brother’s disembodied voice coming from his old room and a complete lack of response to Len’s repeated attempts to contact his coworkers. The only thing that remains the same is his mother’s complaining attitude.
As the week progresses and not only his mother’s resurrection but Len’s own life becomes increasingly hard to explain, he has the opportunity to connect with his mother and learn that what he took for disinterest might actually have been acts of love.
This was, oddly, the second novel-within-a-novel I read this week. Len has always wanted to be a novelist, but lacked the confidence to finish any of his projects. The only book that shows any promise is the one he’s working on when his mother reappears. Through excerpts dotted throughout Len’s week, we see the type of homelife and family he longed for growing up; an idealized version of his real family.
Len and his mother are well drawn, although both were so far from my own personality I had a difficult time relating. But that has nothing to do with the author or his characters. He managed to create a truly aggravating woman in Len’s mother, but I didn’t get exasperated and want to throw the book against the wall (which is my normal reaction to most bitter, unlikable characters). The difference here is that the author went to great pains to explain why she’s like that, and then worked those flaws into a wonderful arc for both characters.
I did have a few issues with this book. So much of the novel was told in flashbacks, not only for Len and his mother’s life but also that of his siblings, I felt the format might have been better suited to a dual timeline novel. Even though this is a quiet, character-driven novel, the amount of backstory bogged down the pacing a bit too much for my liking.
Obviously, the main mystery is the question of why/how is Len’s mother back from the dead? I figured out the outcome about 20% into the novel; although, it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of finding out how it would unfold. I had one or two questions at the end that I don’t feel were fully answered, but if I go into them here, I’ll throw out spoilers. So I’ll keep those to myself.
Over all, an enjoyable read that I rated a solid three stars. ⭐⭐⭐
Until next time, thank you for visiting.
My rating system:
5 stars – Wow, I could not stop thinking about this book and/or I wish I’d writtn it.
4 stars – This was an awesome novel, I’d recommend it to friends.
3 stars – This was a good novel, I will look for more by this author.
2 stars – An okay novel, but I probably won’t look for anything else by the author.
In every conceivable manner, the family is a link to our past, bridge to our future.Alex Haley