By Elizabeth Berg
Publication Date: March 21, 2023
I requested this book in part because the cover is gorgeous, but mostly because the author is Elizabeth Berg, one of my favorite authors for character-driven novels. The title threw me a bit and for a quick second, I wondered if she had started writing Sci Fi. If this also crossed your mind, not to worry; the focus of this novel remains just what you’d expect from an Elizabeth Berg novel.
The story revolves around Arthur Moses, a somewhat shy and bookish sixteen-year-old. This is his coming of age story, when he is experiencing first love, trying to live up to his outgoing older brother, and navigate a sometimes-difficult home life. Arthur has an unrequited love for popular Nola McCollum, who talks to Arthur only because she has a crush on his brother Frank. Despite being cast in the role as friend and confidant but never romantic interest, Arthur patiently courts Nola, hoping one day she’ll realize he has more to offer than the other boys she dates. As well, Arthur finds unlikely friendships with some of his neighbors and learns, with compassion, that adults do not have all the answers.
If it sounds like a very quiet story, it is. The tale begins in 1947 in a small town in Missouri and that flavor flows throughout, swelling to an emotional crescendo that forces Arthur to grow up and come into his own self, rather than trying to emulate his brother.
I had a hard time settling into it at first, having just read a fast-paced mystery, until I was able to appreciate the pacing and ebb and flow of Arthur’s life. This is a book to be savored, like a pause in other busyness. I wound up caught up in the story almost without realizing so that when the bottom dropped out of Arthur’s life, I practically felt the punch. My emotions actually took me by surprise.
The only complaint I have is that I wish it was a little longer. I would have liked to have savored the ending a bit more. But I suppose that’s always a good thing, finishing a book and wanting more.
4.25/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐+
Thank you to NetGalley and Random Publishing Group – Random House for providing the ARC ebook. I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.
Until next time, thank you for visiting.