a small town handles
attention from the big world
I came across this book at the Gordon Avenue Book Sale (for non-locals, it’s a fundraiser for our library system: people donate books, and they’re resold for a few dollars each) and had a sneaking suspicion that I recognized the author’s name.
I’d read one of of her books a few years back with the Readers Guild, and remember being vaguely haunted by it. (Reading my review, I was apparently underwhelmed, but the sense of the book managed to stick with me.)
This might be underwhelming in the same way. It’s very light on plot. The only plot point happens at the beginning (a commercial airplane crashes in this small town), and each chapter is observing the minds of various townspeople as they cope with this event.
One interesting question that comes up during the book revolves around the local church. After this disaster, the pastor/priest spends a significant amount of time sitting with family members of the victims, who arrive in town unannounced, seeking closure. He sets up a memorial in the church building. He leaves the doors unlocked and the lights on so that he can welcome people at any time. His local congregation is frustrated by this – by the extra expense of leaving the lights and heat on 24/7, by the security risks of allowing strangers into their building, and by the violation of their belief that this building and this minister and this church are for THEM and THEIR NEEDS.
I think, in our best moments, we believe that the church is for the lost and the hurt and the mourning. But this selfishness, this frustration with the inconvenience of the other, it really struck a chord.