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Return to Oakpine by Ron Carlson

Pub Date:

Return to Oakpine by Ron Carlson Return to Oakpine
Ron Carlson

Viking Adult
July 11, 2013
Hardcover/272 pages
ISBN: 978-0670025077
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". . .a warm well written story. . ."

Jimmy Brand is heading back to Oakpine after a thirty year absence. He fled after his high school graduation and his older brother’s accidental death. He’s become a successful writer. Many town folk recognize Oakpine and its inhabitants in his stories. His mother is cleaning out the garage for him. He and his father don’t speak: too much blame, guilt, and hateful words spoken which can never be taken back. His classmates, now middle aged men, still live around and anticipate his return, maybe get the band back together. Everything in place for a perfect reunion, except Jimmy has returned home to die. His old friends gather to help clear the garage and offer solace. Jimmy is not afraid, even helps a young writer. He’s chosen to live up until the last.

 

 

There are echoes of Ordinary People and The Big Chill in this story. Looking back at the past, trying to erase the hurt and replace it with good. A family dealing with a beloved son’s death so long ago and on watch for the surviving son’s final bow pulls at the heart. The story follows four friends on their journey of memories, unrealized dreams, and the slow fade of their small town. The town is a metaphor for a way of life. Children want to escape their parents’ world and create their own. In hindsight, what had been built seems brighter and safer. There is a yearning for days gone by, but acceptance of life shines through. A warm well written story without sentimentality or illusion.

Reviewer: K. T. Sullivan