AVAILABLE November 1, 2022
This was a very interesting story. High school counselor Lucas Goodgame is a widower whose wife and sixteen others were killed in a random, violent shooting similar to the one in Aurora, Colorado. Through letters to his former analyst, Lucas describes his life after the tragedy, which includes mentoring the younger brother of the shooter. Eighteen year old Eli Hansen, now perceived as guilty by association, has set up a tent in Lucas’s backyard. Numbed by loss, he cries for days, consumed by a visceral sadness one only achieves when any kind of hope for the future seems impossible.
Over a year we see Lucas, Eli, and others as they try to heal and move forward long after the world has forgotten what happened in their small town. As is common with grief, it comes in waves, it comes unexpectedly, and can be triggered by the smallest (but significant) event. Ever the reluctant hero, Lucas tries to reassemble his life while helping others, convinced that surviving is more than just getting angry, but getting whole. While partnering with Eli on a special project, Lucas has his own team of supporters, ready to pick him up when he needs it the most.
Beautifully written with a hint of magical realism (or perhaps hallucination,) Lucas’s letters touch on everything from the mundane to the profound. His insights show great humanity and emphasize the importance of community after such a shocking event, one which recent history has shown us is, sadly, becoming more and more common.
Author Matthew Quick, who also wrote the powerful Silver Linings Playbook, is no stranger to experiencing or writing about mental illness. His acknowledgments go into detail about how this novel is his first after emerging from a three year writing slump. It is likely that he inserted himself into Lucas, showing the ebb and flow of depression, something to which many of us relate.