Review by Justine Solomons
I loved this book right from the off. The story of a man confronting his unraveling life, this book pushes boundaries, though not as much as The End of Alice, Homes’ story of a young girl writing to an older man in prison. Both books set Homes apart for her sharp representations of lives outside the norm.
We meet the central character, Harry, at a family Thanksgiving dinner. There, an illicit kiss from his brother’s wife, like the flap of a butterfly’s wings, sets in motion a series of events. Harry will leave his failing marriage and futile job, and one year later will reemerge at the centre of a misshapen, and yet beautifully formed, new family.
As I’m loathe to give away the details, I’ll only say that Homes does a great job of exploring the notion that life, and thus the ultimate route to happiness, does not run in a straight line. Harry’s precarious life reminded me of Chuck’s from Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, and so I was not surprised to learn that Homes and Franzen were classmates at the Iowa Writing Workshop. Whatever they put in the water out there I want some; they do produce some great writers.
This very funny, intense and ultimately heart-warming study of a family from one Thanksgiving table to the same table a year later, gives the reader plenty to be thankful for. This is a truly great book, one I’m sure you’ll love.