Wrecker was a wonderful story about what it means to be a family.
Summary via the author’s website:
It’s June of 1965 when Wrecker enters the world. The war is raging in Vietnam, San Francisco is tripping toward flower power, and Lisa Fay – a young innocent from a family farm down south – is knocked nearly sideways by life as a single mother in a city she could barely manage to navigate as just one.
Three years later, she’s alone again. Kids aren’t allowed in prison. And Wrecker, scared silent, furious, and hell-bent on breaking every last thing that crosses his path, is shipped off to live with distant relatives in the wilds of Humboldt County.
There’s no guidebook to mothering for Melody, who thought the best thing in life was eighty acres of old growth along the Mattole River and nobody telling her what to do – until this boy came along. For Melody, for Len, for Willow and Ruth, for Meg and Johnnie Appleseed, life will never again be the same once Wrecker signs on.
And for Lisa Fay, there’s one thought keeping her alive through fifteen years of hard time. One day? She’ll find her son and bring him home.
None of the characters in Wrecker had lives that had gone as expected, and I really enjoyed seeing each of the stories unfold as I read through the book.
Wrecker can’t live with his mother– she’s in jail, and will be for a long time. His uncle agrees to take him in, only to realize that he can’t care for his wife, suffering from some form of dementia, and this extremely active 3 year old boy, determined to live up to his name.
The neighbors step in to help out– first overnight, then for a few weeks, and so on. These aren’t just any neighbors, but a group of four dropouts from society living on a small farm in the Redwood forests of far Northern CA. Each has their own reason for living there, each has a reason for being drawn to Wrecker–and in some cases, for keeping a distance from him as well.
Wrecker explores the stories of many of these characters as forming a new family forces them to face who they have been and who they want to become. It also tells the story of Wrecker’s mother, and particularly her relationship with Wrecker– from his birth, the decisions that landed her in jail, and the effects of realizing he was growing up with no contact with her.
Although the strength of the book was this range of characters and their interrelated stories, there were moments when this was the weakness as well– I wanted to spend more time on one story rather than moving on to another. In general, the approach worked well.
In particular, the interweaving of stories was amazing– the mixing of past and present, of the stories of individuals and of the interactions between them, and most of all, how these interactions changed each individual and influenced how their story proceeded.
Much of the flavor of the book came from the setting– I grew up at roughly the same time but in very different places. I had to keep reminding myself that it is part of the same world I lived in. This very small community near a tiny town seemed completely different from anything I’ve known, but still was very real and vibrant.
All in all, a touching story, well told.
- Monday, April 18th: Scraps of Life
- Tuesday, April 19th: Musings of an All Purpose Monkey
- Thursday, April 21st: Book Club Classics!
- Friday, April 22nd: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
- Monday, April 25th: In the Next Room – review
- Monday, April 25th: In the Next Room – author interview
- Tuesday, April 26th: Life in Review
- Wednesday, April 27th: Boarding in my Forties
- Thursday, April 28th: Red Headed Book Child
- Monday, May 2nd: Joyfully Retired
- Thursday, May 5th: Rundpinne
- Monday, May 9th: Caribousmom
- Tuesday, May 10th: Amused by Books