Saturday, March 31, 2018

Small Mercies by Eddie Joyce

On 9-11, America woke to a day of destruction and loss.  We all lost something that day but the Amendola family of Staten Island lost more that most.  Their youngest son, Bobby, who had followed in his father's footsteps as a fireman, went into the Towers but never came home.

Now, years later, time has moved on and the family struggles to do the same.  The father, Michael, is long retired and spends a lot of time with his buddies at the local pub.  His wife, Gail, is the family glue and now struggles to keep everything the same as it was when they lost Bobby.  His wife, Tina, has come to tell Gail that she has finally met someone she thinks she may have a future with and Gail struggles both with the news and the responsibility to tell her other sons.

Peter, the golden boy of the family, works as a lawyer in a large firm.  He has pulled away from his family and roots but now he is facing challenges in his own life that could bring him back to those who loved him first.  Franky is the middle boy, the one who never quite seemed to grow up and get a firm start in life, and the one who feels the most responsibility for Bobby's death.  How will he handle the news that Tina and Bobby's children will be moving on in life with another man?

Eddie Joyce has written a thoughtful exploration of an Italian-Irish family that delves into the questions of what really makes a family and the validity of family memories and relationships.  The reader meets each character, learns their backstory and comes to know them intimately.  This book is fueled by a tragedy, but most families have a tragedy in their story and it is how we face and handle them that defines us.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

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