Sunday, December 27, 2015

'Did You Ever Have a Family'

Stories about death are the last things most people think I need to read.  A year to recover from my daughter's death isn't enough time; there will never be enough time.  But sometimes, a story comes along that not only lifts me, but makes me feel as if someone has read my soul. 

And it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  I survived, although it took me a while to really get into it.  But I finished it.  I loved it.

It's my choice for 'Book of the Year'. Thanks, Bill Clegg, for 'Did You Ever Have a Family'.

On the eve of her daughter's wedding, June Reid's life is upended when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her daughter, future son-in-law, June's ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke.  Her entire family is gone in an instant, with June being the only survivor.

Alone and not knowing what to do, June drives across the country, away from her small Connecticut town.  In her wake, the community emerges into something viable and worthy of sympathy.  Luke's mother, Lydia, the town outcast; the couple running a motel on the Pacific coast, where June eventually settles into a quiet half-life; the wedding caterer, whose bill has been forgotten; the boy who brings us to a tragic discovery.

Although most people I know thought that I would never be able to finish this book, I think I surprised them all.  It is so tragic, yet so uplifting.  It echoed my own feelings about sudden death.  And like June, I just wanted to run away. Forgetting my bills, forgetting my friends and family.  Forgetting every disappointment.  Insulating myself from the people who most wanted to help me overcome the tragedy.

Author Bill Clegg
But, unlike June, I stuck around.  I didn't run away.  I settled my daughter's estate.  I got through her memorial service.  I managed to stay afloat during the first birthday/Christmas/Thanksgiving without her.

This story is full of forgiveness and hope, love and sadness. The characters are ones I wanted to embrace, and I think I did.

Because I know them.  I know them well.

'Did You Ever Have a Family', the remarkable novel from Bill Clegg, and published by Scout Press (an imprint of Simon & Schuster), is available from your local library or favorite bookstore.  
ISBN 978-1-4767-9817-2

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