By Nathan Robinson
This novella came to me as a random recommendation spotted on Goodreads (and by “random recommendation,” I mean I read a positive review in my timeline and decided to look up the title). You see, I’m a lot more likely to tackle something new and out of the blue if it’s easily digestible, which this novella is…and isn’t. Yes, it is easily digestible in the sense that it’s short enough to read in a single sitting without much pause. No, it is not easily digestible, in the sense that the subject matter is pretty damn rough throughout.
Let’s look at it in brief (vaguely, without spoilers). Our main character is a father who has spent the last twenty years of his life chasing grief for a mistake he made (one that is very common amongst parents and difficult to lay undeniable blame as a result). We follow Elliot Tather to a diner where he sits down for some coffee and a slice of pie. The story then goes into the past, explaining how Elliot got there on the road without any real destination in mind. The reason behind his trip and his grief is heart-breaking, especially if you have kids yourself. Luckily, there are no gruesome or sexual details, but it’s nevertheless a hard story to read (especially since Robinson tells it so well, so emotionally). You eventually make your way back around to the diner where the reveal comes, and it’s not one I was expecting.
I did like the final twist, even though I felt the ending pages weren’t quite as well written as what preceded. The final moments were too abrupt, I think. There was also a moment (I suspect an error) that left me confused; the first few pages of the book mention Elliot’s wife in the seat beside him, but she’s not there at all when we circle back to the diner at the end of the book. Did I miss something spiritual maybe, or was that just a faux pas?
All in all, this was a great, heart-tugging ride that succeeded in a genuine interest in the characters and their ravaged lives. I had never heard of Robinson before, but this novella has left me open to reading more of his work down the road.
Review by Aiden Merchant
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