A novel of how family happens—whether you like it or not
Elaine and Carson Forsyth have returned to the tree house—Elaine's childhood home, a cabin nestled high in the branches of two oaks beside a North Carolina lake—where forty-nine-year-old Carson has chosen to spend the waning days of his life. As Elaine prepares for a future without her beloved husband, their solace is interrupted. Carson's mother, Greta, has set loose a neighbor's herd of alpacas and landed herself in police custody. While Carson, remarkably, sees humor in the situation, Elaine can only question what her obligations are—and will be—to a woman who hasn't spoken to her in more than twenty years.
In the wake of Carson's death, Elaine and their grown son, Mick, are thrust into the maelstrom of Greta, the mother-in-law and grandmother who never accepted either of them. Just as they are trying to figure out their new roles in the family, Mick uncovers unexpected questions of his own. A long-ago teenage relationship with a local girl may have left him with more than just memories, and he must get to the bottom of Greta's surprising accusations that he's not Carson's son at all.
This is the first book I've read cover to cover in quite a while. The boys keep me busy and reading time is hard to come by. I found myself making time for this book. It was easy to relate to the family dynamics and issues and it felt "real". I wish there was a little more back story before Carson's death as I feel like I could have connected with the characters more if I had met them sooner. I also wish that the flashbacks would have been better separated or marked in the story. A simple paragraph break was not enough for me and it would take a few sentences in for me to realize we had jumped backward or forward in time. I found that to be a bit distracting in an otherwise good book. I think this book is definitely worth a read and especially if you've ever lived in a small town and dealt with that dynamic with your family.
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