I would rather have rated this a 4.5, but thought 4 stars was too low. With that being said . . .
Ezekiel "Zeke" Cooper, Clayton, Tennessee, at his 25 year class reunion, ponders his life. How could the the smart boy with a full scholarship to the University of Virginia, end up living like this? Divorced, his ex-wife's wedding the week end before, living in a shack behind his mother's house, and working on the line in an elevator plant? And the drowning death of his twin brother Carter, defining his life? Seeking refuge, he leaves Clayton, on a mission. To end his life. But events change, and he ends up at Cousin Georgia, and husband, Osbourne Lacey's home near Bailey, Virginia.
I thought it was ironic that I should finish it on Mother's Day, as a lot of the book focused on the relationship of Zeke and his mother. Zeke had a lot of issues with his mother, and they were not unfounded. He felt ambivalence towards her, but refused to even speak with her to try to resolve it. His entire adult life was spent shutting her out.
Zeke also had a few other relationship issues, and I enjoyed the way the author explored why he felt the way he did. There was an honesty to his feelings, but he internalized them, thus harming his relationships. So many times relationships falter because we may lack the knowledge or inability to see both sides on an issue, but also exposing our true feelings makes us vulnerable. Zeke was a product of his generation where "feelings" were not talked about.
As a divorced father, he struggled with that too. I liked this quote from the book. My girl thinks the reason I'm such a shitty dad is something she or Lou did. How could I forget how innocent they are? People say children are resilient, and maybe that's true, but what is not said enough, or at least not by anyone I know, is how small the world is to a child. It begins and ends with her family and when that breaks down somehow-through divorce, adultery, sickness, death-the child loses trust in everything she knows.
This book made me think about the relationships that I have with the people I love. Am I the best I can be? Have I given my best, or settled for less because giving my best is a lot of work? I really enjoyed this book and will be recommending it.