by Cheryl Strayed

Anne Ferber: This is the author's first and only novel. The theme is once again the death of her mother (as told in her memoir, Wild), but there is more context and character development, as she describes the effects on herself and her younger brother.

The mother, named Theresa Wood, is a beloved member of a small Minnesota community, who is well known because of her weekly radio advice show, which everyone enjoys and discusses. Although unschooled, she has innate knowledge of gardening secrets and home grown health remedies which she shares with her listeners. She closes each show imploring her listeners to be incredible!

Her short terminal illness leaves the town, and especially her son and daughter, shocked and bereft. The plot is mainly a description of how a 22 year old girl and her younger brother (17) cope with the loss of their mother, and the additional loss of a step father, who looks in other directions to fulfill his need for family. In truth, they do not cope very well, but by relying on each other, they manage to eventually discover strengths within themselves that leave the reader with a sense of optimism for their future.
Rating: ****

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