A blithe and redemptive seriocomic love story filled with country music, the
ghosts of Halloween, and an ironic brand of down-home religion.
Newly divorced and feeling the pain of separation from his family, Hud Smith
channels his regret into writing country-western songs, contemplating life on
the lam with his 8-year-old daughter, and searching cryptic postcards for news
of his teenage son who has run off with The Daughters of God, an alternative
Gospel-punk band of growing fame. Then he finds himself inching toward
reconciliation with his ex, tossing his whole talent for misery into question as
they head off in a borrowed school bus, hoping so very tentatively to bring the
entire family together again.
In this endearing misadventure that threatens to turn out right in spite of
it all, Schaffert writes a thin line between tragedy and hilarity, turning wry
humor and a keen sense of the paradoxical onto characters who deserve all the
tender care he gives them.
Nebraska Life Magazine
What makes it work is Schaffert's deep understanding of (and compassion for) his characters, with all their irrationalities and contradictions. Though the plot allows Schaffert to display his sharp sense of irony and humor, ultimately it is the characters themselves that drive the story. Hud, for example, may be a lousy husband and father, but he means well and loves his children in his own fumbling way...Schaffert...remains a writer worth reading, a talented novelist with a style all his own.
The New York Times - Janet Maslin
While much of America's reading public suffers its way through the latest selection from Oprah Winfrey's book club, Mr. Schaffert's obscure little treat is also ready for group discussion.....With one tip of the hat (through "Hud") to Larry McMurtry and another that ought to go to Richard Russo, Mr. Schaffert creates a comically mopey little burg full of whimsical dreams....[He] does not take his material lightly. He only makes it seem that way.
The Lincoln-Journal Star
Poignant...This splendid new book echoes the wacky humor of Schaffert's first book - The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters - and yet both treat seriously the complexity of family ties that persist against all odds.
Starred Review. Laced with hope and an aching sweetness, it is as whimsical and smile-inducing as its title. Readers will fall for Hud, his family, and the one-off inhabitants of the quirky little town from page one owing to Schaffert's homey yet elegant and precise prose. The only reason to put the book down is to make it last.
Achy-breaky dysfunction drives a messy, funny family drama in this smalltown Nebraska tale, told in a winning faux-naive style...film, along with music, plays a wonderful incidental role throughout....Deft, sweet and surprising.
Jennie Shortridge, author of Eating Heaven and Riding With the Queen The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God is an honest and
unflinching story of families unraveled and the heartache and joy only loved
ones can spark in each other. With skill and tenderness, Timothy Schaffert
unfolds his characters' hopes, strengths, and frailties in this gorgeous novel,
revealing the crazy-quilt fabric of humanity.
I can't get over the delight of Tim Schaffert's new novel, with an instantly appealing cast of characters that won my heart so quickly and thoroughly. And the ending, as sweet and transcendent as any I can remember, lifted me right out of my chair.
Midwest Book Review - Laurel Johnson
Schaffert breathes life into his characters with a delicate touch, lending a poignant dignity to even the oddest misfit. The result is life boiled down to its heartiest essence....[The book] is often humorous, yes, but thanks to Schaffert's story telling style it is not a cruel parody of life's rejects. These are lives made up of large and small failures, joys, and negotiations. And Schaffert makes them shine. Highly recommended.
In this funny, sad and somehow good natured book Jean Harfenist explores the interface between love and dysfunction through young Lillian whose voice will stick with you long after you turn the last page.
A witty, often eye-dabbing, always heartwarming love story between a father and his four-year-old son. A British bestseller for 50 weeks and British Book Awards Book of the Year.
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