Even the very title of this novel screams that it is quintessentially American. Set deep in the heart of the country, the key protagonist Abby is a mother first, a wife second, and a money maker last. This book is almost what I would call a reverse bildungsroman (if such a thing exists): we start off with a retired Abby who still struggles to understand her problem child Denny, and then we move back to how she met her husband Red, and even further back in time to how his parents met. Eventually the reader learns that out of happiness, happiness does not always emerge, and out of unhappiness it is possible to find joy.
Denny has always been a problem child, yet in spite of that. or perhaps because of it, he's always been Abby's favourite. But what happens when a problem child grows up and becomes a problem adult? Does it get any easier for a mother? And what about the rest of her children? Abby is mother to Jeannie, Amanda, Denny and Stem, as well as grandmother to numerous children, and loves being the centre of their little community, as well as the fact that they all live nearby.
Unfortunately, Abby is starting to age, and as the family gather closer together, we find otu everyone's real intentions with being part of the family, and their true colours are displayed. But when we delve deeper into Abby's memory we learn that perhaps even seemingly the closest of families can be worlds apart.
Have you read it? What did you think?