Mira, Jul 2004, 23.95, 416 pp.
Thirty-seven years old Tessa MacRae and her sixty-year-old mom Nancy Whitlock are worried about the latter's octogenarian mother Helen, who has neglected her Tom Brooks, Virginia house. The home is dangerously cluttered with junk as Nancy realizes she has not been allowed inside since her five-year-old granddaughter was killed by a drunk driver three years ago, the pivotal moment that left three surviving generations shattered.
Tessa's husband Mack attends Compassionate Friends to help him cope with his grief. Tessa is an active member of MADD, but has done nothing to truly deal with her loss of their daughter. Mack feels cut off from his wife who he loves dearly, but needs love and is considering an affair.
Nancy's husband Billy visits, but she worries that though they have been married for decades he will see her farm roots and leave her. Nancy loves Billy, but feels a need to defend her birth home and her mom before going upstairs to cry. Billy leaves without saying goodbye.
As the three women clean out the house over the summer and allow a pregnant teen to join them, will they find solace in their memories?
The entire cast is as powerful as they come as every key member (even Helen's long deceased husband) is incredibly developed. The relationships between the characters are fantastic because even the negativity seems genuine. The use of quilting enables the past to surface interwoven with the current woes. Though the amount of angst (each one of the three lead human females deals with enough problems to cover a book by herself) overwhelms, Emilie Richards paints a wonderfully insightful family drama.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner