Bantam, Mar 2004, 22.95, 277 pp.
In 1991, fifteen years old diehard Red Sox fan Charlie St. Cloud believes this is the year the curse will end as his favorite team battles the Blue Jays (not the hated Yankees) for the division title. He has two tickets to tonight's game against the Yanks, but needs transportation from Marblehead. He and his younger brother Sam take the neighbor's station wagon without permission. They have a good time at the ball park, but on the way home while crossing the Saugus River, Charlie crashes the car. Medics save Charlie, but Sam dies.
Charlie always promised to be there for his thirteen year old sibling so everyday he visits Sam at his gravesite and ultimately obtains the job of cemetery caretaker. Sam never moves on to the next spiritual stage staying behind at the cemetery to talk with his older brother. Everything seems fine between the siblings until sailor Tess Carroll arrives at the cemetery and she and Charlie soon fall in love. However, what about his promise to Sam and just who is this Tess who has separated the brothers something death failed to do.
THE DEATH AND LIFE OF CHARLIE ST. CLOUD is a powerful look at life and death and how much the living is obligated to deceased loved ones. The first half is as terrific and insightful a tale as this reviewer has read this year. However, the plot takes a weird turn with a couple of unnecessary twists that add tension, but destroy Sherwoodian after life physics and an intriguing triangle. Still this is a fabulous tale that focuses on the debt of those alive owe to those who have died.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner