Doubleday, 2004 (2004)
Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke
eslie Schwartz deftly weaves the story of a cast of individuals from different backgrounds in a town called
. Each is affected by the tragic death of three-year-old Nate. Reflecting on the pain in their own pasts and facing their own truths, town residents are brought together in a time of adversity. Ethan Denton has gained custody of his three-year old son Nate. One early morning they travel to the California Sierras. Rather than waking Nate, Ethan takes a few moments for a closer look at deer in a field. Upon returning to the vehicle, he finds the door open and Nate gone. Ethan faces charges of '
' and a lifetime torment of his loss.
lcohol is the constant companion of Cindy, Ethan's ex-wife and Nate's mom. Angie is bringing up her granddaughter Rosie, abandoned by daughter Rachel. Glick served six years for a crime he did not commit, with no apologies from the prosecutors for wrongful imprisonment. Jane knew in her teens that she was gay and married a man to hide it. From that union came a son she deserted in infancy. Now twenty-years-old, George contacts Jane and arrives with his pregnant friend Melody. Jane's lesbian partner Rocksan is embittered by memories of her father's abandonment, leaving a mother in poverty and alone to raise two girls. Judge Jack Rosenthal (a recent widower) mourns his loss. He is tormented by memories of son Marty, who has chosen a life of drug and alcohol. The judge awakens one morning to find Marty in the house, stealing the jewelry box and a coin collection.
is about more than the death of a three-year-old child. Schwartz delicately defines each cast member - who they are, how they think and feel - and blends in beautiful descriptions, '
a ceiling of pine and snow ... woven carpets of arctic willow ... glowered above the clouds.
' It's a story that lingers and is not easily forgotten, one that focuses on the complexity of experiences in the eye of tragedy - a coming together of intense emotions from each person's private life, and the communion of heart and mind in helping each other.
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