Family dynamics change when a mother dies of cancer. Teresa is an idealist and an awesome wife (to Bruce) and mother to Claire and Joshua. When cancer settles in Teresa's spine and spreads throughout her body it is too late. Radiation only makes her weak and sick. Her family watches helplessly as she enters hospice each handling their impending grief over her loss differently. Bruce tries to be present for his step-kids plotting his suicide as the thought of living without his best friend over bearing. Claire, leaves college and spends every second next to her mother hoping to will her alive. Joshua decides the best thing he can do is spend time alone and avoids visiting his mother in hospice. He will have no memory of her being there and misses her final breath.
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The small town Teresa has made famous through her radio talk show and her as a waitress reaches out to the grieving family. One person in particular the good neighbor Kathy, goes the extra mile by offering Bruce friendship, a shoulder to cry on, and sex. While it seems she is offering this out of the kindness of her heart she has an agenda. She wants to be married and to give birth. Two months after Teresa is funeralized Bruce and Kathy wed. Bruce forgets that he wants to die and that he is stepfather to two grieving people.
While Claire is grieving she drops out of her last year of college, breaks up with her boyfriend David, and sleeps with a Bill a man she meets while her mother his in hospice and is his wife is a across the hall dying. Josh drops of his last year of high school to sell drugs for his best friends mother and live-in boyfriend.
Claire does not let Bruce off the hook for any of his actions. She demands to know where he's stashed his loyalty to Teresa and his commitment to the kids he has helped raise.
When Joshua finally gets busted he is given a sentence of eighty-five days in the local jail. Claire and Joshua's pregnant girlfriend Lisa visit weekly, Bruce only makes it out twice.
When Kathy and Bruce go out of town Joshua and Claire volunteer to feed the animals while they are away. Going back into their home they manage to collect the good memories left by their mother and gain the courage to move forward with their lives. Claire decides to use her new degree (she completed her last two courses for graduation) on line to head to Minneapolis and start over. Joshua is gifted a the bar his mother worked in (the owners are tired) and this will give him Lisa and baby Iris a way to earn a living and a place to live.
Best part of story, including ending:
I hated that Bruce walked away from kids who loved him.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was Claire and Lisa visiting Josh in jail.
Opinion about the main character:
I disliked Bruce for being a unreliable coward.