Cook takes a careful but sometimes smothering look at grief in her second novel (after 2004's Departures), as a 30-something Michigander mourns the untimely loss of her beloved husband. After Dill's death from a brain aneurysm, Anna Rainey finds herself emotionally unable to stay in their home. She wanders from friends' sofas to a dormitory room to a small apartment, sometimes experiencing visitations from Dill's ghost and often feeling guilty: her failure to fix the garage door may have kept him from getting to the hospital in time. As if her grief makes her a magnet for tragedy, Anna befriends Jay, who hit a boy with his car in bad weather, putting the boy in a coma; she also helps counsel Sheena, an Upward Bound kid who's lost her father, and tutors Celia, a 10-year-old struggling to cope with her mother's death. Anna's mother, too, can't quite let go of Anna's father, who died nine years earlier. It takes gumption to let one's characters roam about unhinged and inconsolable, recovering only on their own terms and in their own sweet time, and in doing so, Cook paints a lucid and realistic portrait of loss. But she also creates a slightly wearying read: all unhappy families may be unhappy in their own ways, but young widows mourn-and eventually heal-in fairly routine fashion. Agent, Lisa Bankoff. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
By page four of this heartfelt novel, Annabelle Rainey, in her mid-thirties and happily married, is facing her husband's unexpected death. Unable to deal with this sudden loss, she becomes a wandering houseguest, living temporarily with a succession of friends. Although her friends try to counsel her and give her solace, the grief-stricken Annabelle resists returning home; instead, she seeks temporary lodging in a dormitory and then a small apartment, always living a Spartan, almost anonymous existence. Finally summoning the strength and courage to go home, she comes to terms with her loss. Cook (Departures) has avoided writing a maudlin, morbid story by creating a strong and appealing character confronting a great challenge. Her small, poignant gem of a novel is well observed and filled with insight and humor. Recommended for most fiction collections.-Andrea Tarr, Alta Loma, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Second-novelist Cook (Departures, 2004) follows a young Michigan woman's emotional recovery after her husband's death. Anna, an Upward Bound administrator working with promising kids from economically deprived backgrounds, is devastated when her husband, Dill, a graphic designer with whom she's been rapturously happy, dies of an aneurysm. It doesn't help that Anna feels responsible: maybe if she'd arranged to have their broken garage door fixed, he would have reached the hospital in time. After the funeral, Anna finds she just can't return to the home she and Dill shared. And so, after seven weeks with her mother, who has never quite recovered from the death of Anna's father-her parents' intense romance always made Anna feel a little left out-she moves from friend to friend, then into a dorm of the college where she's running a summer program, and eventually into a rented room. She becomes involved in the family of one of her students, whose younger brother lies comatose in the hospital after a car accident. She and the driver of the car have a brief but torrid affair fueled by their shared sense of survivor's guilt; when the boy wakes up, the relationship breaks off. After dropping out of her grief group, Anna develops a friendship with a fellow group member, John, whose primary concern is how his ten-year-old daughter, Celia, is adjusting to her mother's death. Anna starts tutoring Celia. As the two connect, she also thinks a relationship with John might be possible, but he has already become involved with someone else. Meanwhile, Dill pays predictable "visits." At a party that happens to fall on the first anniversary of his death, Anna gets in touch with her anger and begins to feelwhole. Finally, she returns home. Even usually empathetic readers can be forgiven a yawn. Neither bland Anna nor her earnest but shopworn story brings new energy or insight to the process of loss. Agency: ICM