• The Bossy Bookworm

Review of The Distance from Four Points by Margo Orlando Littell

In The Distance from Four Points, Littell explores deep human connections, grief, womanhood, what strength means, the power of origins, and the concept of home.

In Margo Orlando Littell's slim novel The Distance from Four Points, Robin Besher's husband has died, and she's desperately trying to come to terms with the tragedy.

But she's soon faced with issues beyond missing him: he had secretly sunk all of their savings into ramshackle rental houses in her Appalachian hometown, which she'd fled decades earlier. She has no clue as to what his intentions were, or why he would go against what he must have known she would have wanted.

Angry, confused, and filled with dread, Robin drags her daughter Haley back to Four Points in hopes of renovating the houses quickly, selling them, and cutting ties to the town forever.

The story frequently hearkens back to dark, disturbing, haunting scenes from Robin's youth in Four Points, and much of her present-day energy is spent coping with filth, brokenness, her continued desperation about money, and her never-ending scrabbling to make ends meet.

Robin comes face to face with some of her most enduring past horrors, juggles her abandoned past and carefully curated present identities, and must make peace with the idea that her "old" and "new" selves are one and the same, and that without her past desperation, she wouldn't have found the strength to persist and take care of her daughter now.

Robin inadvertently connects to the unlikeliest of people in the town, some of whom were part of her dark, frequently pain-filled youth. In The Distance from Four Points, Littell explores deep human connections, grief, womanhood, what strength means, the power of origins, and the concept of home.

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Margo Orlando Littell is also the author of Each Vagabond by Name, which is suspenseful fiction that's set in small-town Pennsylvania as this novel is.