Sunday, April 18, 2010

Guest House by Barbara Richardson

Melba Burns witnesses a terrible collision.  Big truck versus cyclists.  With eyes wide in horror, she scrambles from her volvo the downed cyclist and holds him in her arms as he takes his dying breath.

Melba swears she won't drive another car again.  It kills people.  So, Melba takes to her old boxy house and only leaves when she has to.  Her volvo sits in the driveway like a lump of coal, cold.

JoLee Garry loves having a good time and wants it all.  A good man, money and she uses her good looks as an asset to get what she wants. But when she wants a divorce from Gene, it falls into place.  Heartbroken, Gene leaves with their young son Matt in tow.

Gene drowns his sorrow in the bottle, but is determined to make something of himself so JoLee will want him back.  He buys a bar in the middle of Idaho and he and Matt try to make a go of it.  It's no place for a boy, being raised in a bar. Matt folds into himself; he just wants a family that will love him.

JoLee, down on her luck, runs into Melba and finds herself renting a room in her house.  Melba isn't used to all of JoLee's messing around with Bill, a wealthy man she met on the street, at all times of the day and all places of her house, so she sets down some rules.  JoLee doesn't care for them but smiles and goes along with her.  Melba knows JoLee has a son, so she invites him for Thanksgiving and even pays for his bus fare.

Melba's heart is almost broke when she meets Matt.  No child should be unwanted and she does her best to make him feel safe and loved.  But Matt eventually gets bounced around between JoLee and Gene.  Gene wants JoLee back, and JoLee wants a divorce.  They use Matt as leverage to try and get what they both want.  And along the way, Melba comes out of her shell to live, love and learn, and if nothing fails, she may take Matt with her.

GUEST HOUSE is a heart breaking story of an older woman who has it all but loses her path with one horrible event.  It's the story of two adults in the midst of a divorce and what their actions and consequences can do to the life of an innocent child.  It's the story of a child who just wants to be loved.  Long after the last page is turned, I was still thinking and living the story of Melba, Matt, JoLee and Gene.  Their lives intertwine and overlap in so many directions that if one turn had been handled differently, the outcame could be different.    A very thought-provoking, heart breaking story that has a light at the end of the dark tunnel.  Real and flawed, the heart is a very fragile thing, but Ms. Richardson explores it to it's very core.  Remarkable!

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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