Author Catherine Ryan Hyde continues to impress me with her unique pairing of old and young characters! This time, however, the younger of the two is also the wiser. A lot wiser.
If you’ve seen the film As Good As it Gets, with Jack Nicholson and Greg Kinnear, you have the ideal casting for the cantankerous Chester Wheeler and his gay neighbor/caretaker, Lewis Madigan.
Chester Wheeler has no social filter and he’s dying. He’s managed to run off every possible person to attend to his needs. Lewis is a twenty-four year old software developer who just lost everything stable in his life. He needs a job and he’s desperate. (It would take someone desperate to put up with Chester.) Fortunately for Lewis, he’s employed by Chester’s daughter, Ellie, who is supportive of any means Lewis uses to get Chester to cooperate. Or yield. Or surrender. Semantics.
As we get to know Chester–despite his terrible moods, passive aggression, and name calling–a profound truth surfaces: Hurt people…hurt people. Does that make his behavior OK? Absolutely not. But knowing the why helps, just as it does in any difficult relationship. And Lewis is great with Chester–he’s patient without allowing himself to be victimized.
When Chester presents Lewis with a dying wish, the real adventure begins. It’s one that brings self-discovery, closure, and hope. This book is the definition of character-driven and you really do care for both of these men, one at the end of his life and one whose life is just beginning. It’s a grand story from start to finish.