Earth’s the right place for love

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With a main protagonist calling to mind apple pie and sunshine, (still at that difficult stage, but at his essence, a gentle optimist, so clearly packaged up with love), a plot oozing with the bittersweet essence of interminably-awkward high-school ardor, and a backdrop of equal parts excruciating and heart-melting family dynamics, this fictional gem is a quietly-but-resolutely-building masterpiece of emotional triumph.

As Arthur Moses, eighty-five years old at the novel’s onset, takes us back decades into the past, we visit with him as a sixteen-year-old, where he must face the pivotal and character-revealing experiences that underlie the man he is today.

And so begins a spellbinding journey, brimming with so much kindness, small-town charm, brotherly affection, and yes, deeply evocative nostalgia for a simpler time, (arguably in many ways a better time), with so many oddly-valiant characters to see us through this story, that the lump-in-the-throat test, unmistakeable in the intensity of its presence upon reaching the finale, must be acknowledged.

This one moved me deeply as it melted, and charmed, and totally took my breath away.

Set in the fifties in Mason, Missouri, the author (one of my favorite contemporary novelists) introduces us to young Arthur, his much-loved older brother Frank, complicated parents, and his first-love, the pretty and oh so-hard-to-understand teenage Nola Corinne McCollum.

“You fall in love with your heart, not your brain, so sometimes things don’t work out so perfectly”.

With Frank providing the mentor-like support above to his naive and romantically-clueless brother, the sweetness of the tone of their interaction, as well as the poignant relationships our big-hearted Arthur finds himself developing (with an assortment of lonely yet strangely-approachable souls in his much-loved town), could not help but touch this reader.

Without giving the plot away (no spoilers here), there are twists ahead for young Arthur, and much to experience, as after all, his emotional blossoming (and that now, of the reader) is on a path as expansive as his own heart will bear.

A follow-up to the first in the Mason series, this novel worked beautifully stand-alone.
This reader, for one, can’t wait to go back and read the predecessor.

A great big thank you to Netgalley for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.


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