We meet a busy, slightly dysfunctional family that owns a diner/ice cream restaurant called Harry’s. Told from Fern’s point of view, she is the third of four children and has never quite had all the parental attention she would like. Her sister, Sarah, is 18, but didn’t get into college so she is staying home, expected to work at the family restaurant. Holden, 14, is routinely bullied at school and the torturous school bus for being gay. Something he is slowly coming to terms with but hasn’t had the courage to admit to his family. Fern knows, but doesn’t care. She loves and adores Holden for who he is and will stick up for him whenever she can. Charlie is the youngest and is a typical 3-year-old with equal parts cute, yucky, loving and annoying. Their father shoots a commercial featuring the family much to the embarrassment of the older ones, but little Charlie ends the commercial with a catchy, “See you at Hawee’s”, that becomes the catch phrase around town.
Then tragedy strikes. A family that is often too busy for each other learns to turn to each other. While at first it looks like they will never be the same again, they begin to realize how much they love each other. The writing excels, making this a difficult book to set aside because there was never a good stopping point. It is the fluidity of the writing, the way the story unfolds and also how past events are woven into the present to tell the backstory. This endears all of the flawed characters to the reader and shows how they grow as individuals and as a family. The author does an excellent job with Holden’s coming to terms with his sexuality and facing his bullies and his concerned father. Tissues are needed for this exceptional story and perfectly told. Highly recommended.
NetGalley Review Publication date 5.08.12