For author and Dallas Morning News columnist Dreher and his baby sister, Ruthie, their tiny Louisiana parish defined them as they grew up, bringing a sense of belonging to her and a need to escape for him. Family and community meant everything to the townspeople, and they routinely gathered at Dreher’s parents’ home and later his sister’s, but he found himself at odds with his father and sister, yearning for experiences beyond the confining borders of the parish. Dreher writes movingly of the struggles within himself and within his family, in particular with his sister. Ruthie became a schoolteacher with a huge impact on her students, beloved by everybody, but with little patience for what she viewed as her brother’s snobbish and overly intellectual thinking and lifestyle that grew into lifelong resentments. While Ruthie married her high school sweetheart before graduating from college and was content to never go far from her childhood door, Dreher changed jobs and cities multiple times even after settling down with a wife and kids. It wasn’t until his sister is diagnosed at 40 with cancer that he begins to re-evaluate his plans, realizing that after two decades away he is only now able to return, at peace with the decisions he made as he works to get to know his extended family better and tries to forgive and understand them. Through his sister’s life and in her death, Dreher, writing in this tender memoir, learns compassion, gratitude, and to focus on the blessings of the moment. Agent: Gary Morris. (Apr.)
Very nice (though I’m no longer a DMN columnist, as you know). I’m grateful to PW.