Joella's lovely exploration of three characters' loss and grief allows for deep human connection, the forging of messy paths forward, and unlikely, powerful sparks of hope within their interconnected lives.
Maybe that is love. Maybe loving someone so deeply means accepting the fact that they occupy a specific, clear place in you. You accept that there will be a hole if you lose them- the same way a painting or a photograph will leave its shadows on the wall after it's gone, the way a tree will leave a crater where the roots and stump were.
He thinks of all this- this is the price he has paid for loving so much, and it doesn't feel better, but it makes sense. It seems reasonable.
Chuck Ayers is a recent widower and is reeling from the loss of the love of his life. As he faces a scheduled yearly vacation to Hilton Head, he attempts to get rid of his wife's belongings--and discovers aspects to her that he never knew when she was alive.
Kirsten Bonato has suffered a loss of her own, which threw off her long-standing plans for vet school. Now she's working at an animal rescue center and sorting out burgeoning romantic feelings for two different men.
She thinks of Mrs. A., her beautiful goodness. How, in so many ways, she made her students see a vision of a kind world. How knowing this world existed has stayed inside Kirsten and countered the cruelty of what happened to her father.
Ella Burke is struggling to make ends meet and to fill her long days. Her young daughter is missing, and Ella is in limbo, desperately hoping she hears news soon.
A Quiet Life centers around three characters, their unlikely connections, and their growing importance to each other over the course of a winter in a suburban community.
Through the very different but interconnected storylines and the varied, complicated set of characters' influences and motivations, Joella explores the crushing blow of grief, the power of human caring, and unlikely avenues that seem to lead toward hope.
A Quiet Life was lovely and heartwarming but didn't feel too easy and was never cloying.
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Ethan Joella is also the author of A Little Hope, a book I look forward to reading.