by: Roxana Robinson
This is a complicated plot; it mostly follows the perspective of Julia, (mother to Steve & Jack & ex-wife of Wendell) who had an affair, divorced her husband for the same reason, & then moved in to take care of her parents in their old age. Her dad, a former neurosurgeon, is the one she's most like & thus she butts heads with him quite a bit & her mother, Katharine, is losing her mind due to Alzeheimer's. She has to be reminded of things, even important events like Jack's intervention. Harriet, Julia's sister, only comes around mid-book; she and Julia were estranged as young girls & have an awkward relationship.
Julia's younger son, Jack, has been living in New York City & he's a heroin addict. He kept asking his parents for large amounts of money, claiming he was in a band. (He used to be a musician but he turns into a total junkie.) When he is really in heroin's clutches, his parents decide to have an intervention & hire a man named Carpenter, who helps bail Jack out of jail for petty crimes once he escapes the hospital, in pain from the withdrawals of heroin.) It's a pretty heavy book; there are some major gems as far as quotes & takeaway messages, but ultimately, it's very heartbreaking what Jack's addiction *costs* the entire family.
"People were so ready now to give up, throw everything away, but divorce was the solution to nothing."
"Now of course, you were taught that any exchange between colonials and indigenous tribes was inequitable, but Julia chose to see the scene as benign. Blankets for furs was not a bad trade, and the blankets were heavy, warm, handsome. She chose to see the exchange through its beauty, and wasn't this the way you defined your vision of the world?"
"You had to create your own balance, your own certainty. You had to find your own faith, you had to stand up for it against the assaults of logic and fear and the articulations of the whole critical world. You had to close your eyes to everything else, repeating your personal creed, reminding yourself of what you were doing, why you were doing it."
"You were judged all the time, by the critics, by your colleagues,your peers, your family. Your work & your life. You were judged as a person as well: there was some code, moral, ethical that underlay everything. She understood that she was always striving to be good, to be virtuous; she could not have said for whom."
My Rating: 3 stars (mostly due to explicit language)