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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Loss, aging, and the possibility of hope and redemption: weighty themes to be sure, but they're handled with aplomb in this memorable character-driven novel set in contemporary Nebraska. Toby, a hardy 72-year-old widow, is trying to hang onto a life that appears to be ending. Her world -- once populated by larger-than-life individuals -- now includes her cranky sister, her ailing brother, and a weathered old hired hand. Her only child left the homestead long ago and rarely calls. Moreover, Toby's ranch is in danger of foreclosure, and her one wish is to die before she loses it for good.
Then a newcomer joins this motley crew. Lila, Toby's pregnant teenage granddaughter, arrives for a stay, complete with spiked hair and a glittering stud in her nose. "Mom sent me here because she can't stand to look at me," Lila explains, and Toby replies, "Well. Maybe so." Yet the impending arrival of this baby may be just what these senior citizens need to come to terms with their own lives -- and with their future.
Joern borrowed her title from a line in a Willa Cather novel, and it's hard to imagine a more appropriate one. This down-to-earth tale takes on disparate elements, from cattle branding to punk fashions and Alzheimer's disease, and the result is a moving and passionately told work of fiction, as vast and American as its setting. (Holiday 2006 Selection)