This story begins at 5:00 pm on a Wednesday at a small town bar aptly named The Final Final. Emma has taken her seat among the regulars and it’s less than a year since her divorce from the man who she met and gained her acceptance there. Her sadness is obvious as she reflects on the people and the journey to this moment. Over the course of the next six hours, the lives of everyone there will be dramatically changed forever.
It’s solely Emma’s point of view as she goes back and forth in time to provide a sense of self, setting and local color, including a perspective of those regulars at the bar, relating vignettes about each. These stories gave me a certain clarity about them. I didn’t always know where it was leading, so much so that I struggled to figure out the point. But gradually the eloquence of the writing overwhelmed that need and I just listened. We know something terrible happened to Emma but that isn’t revealed early on. We also don’t know what destroyed her marriage. We just know there were events that created her current state. There’s an unevenness in the telling but somehow that began to make sense.
There is a lot of sadness for most of the story but the threat of joy and light emerging was always in the air. I’m not advocating patience as much as I am stillness and careful attention. The ending, in particular, should be read or listened to intently because it is the culmination of everything that preceded it and every word matters. I opted for the audio version and the narrator delivered a solid performance but I had a tough time knowing the difference between past and present transitions. I actually borrowed the eBook just to read the last two chapters. Fortunately, I’ll be discussing this story with my book club because there’s so much to consider. It’s hard to grasp that this is a debut novel. It is something special.
- Release Date: August 18, 2020
- Narrator: Amanda Dolan
- Audio Length: 9 hours, 5 minutes
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Libro.fm
(Thanks to Simon & Schuster Audio for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)