While reading, I was reminded of why I enjoy Schmidt's writing. He makes his stories come alive. You can see, hear, taste, and feel what is happening in the story. He makes you want to linger on descriptions - the funny becomes funnier, and the sad becomes sadder.
I enjoyed the character development and friendships. I liked how the town pulled together, but I hated how Cole's depressed father seemed to be ignored. I'm sure they didn't know how to help him, but it seemed that they didn't even try.
I struggled to get into this book, but once I did, I enjoyed it. This story deals with some hard truths: death of a parent, suicide, the ability of one person to pay another to go to war for them, guilt, anger, sadness, depression, judging, grace, and more. With a mature group of students the discussions and debates generated would be life changing.
Blurb from Goodreads.com: After Cole's mother dies, he and his father go to live with his mother's parents in tiny Albion, New Hampshire. The Emersons make it easier for Cole to cope -- but he is helpless in the face of his father's depression. So Cole turns to Albion itself, and its history. Can the old stories help him handle the present? "Infused with feeling, and shot through with sobering, hilarious, startling, lovely, always well-told incidents...A haunting, thoroughly admirable debut."-- School Library Journal
This book is out of print, but good prices are still available on used copies at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com
Read to a child today even if that child is you.