#IMWAYR: The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg
I hope you all are doing well! I've decided to just openly admit that sometimes, I will only have an adult book to review, and even though this version of #IMWAYR is primarily for kidlit, I don't think any of us will refuse a great new book to read! So today, I have an adult novel to briefly review for you all that I think is just delightful: The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg!
(And I will say, this book has some mature content, but any YA reader who wants to read this too will find absolutely nothing objectionable—in fact, in some ways, it's almost aimed at teenage readers as much as it is at adults!)
Arthur Moses is a compassionate old man who visits the grave of his wife Nola every day—and remembers all the others who have passed too. Maddy Harris is a teenage girl who finds refuge from school bullies and her difficult father at the local cemetery. And Lucille Howard is an older woman who "seems to think the world is her classroom" but has just found love for the first time. When a one-two punch of difficult circumstances strikes these three characters, they come together in surprising ways to care for one another, and they just might find new ways to understand the lives they have left to live, and the time that comes beyond them too. (Oh, and let's not forget that they also just might discover the power of Lucille's baked goods—that's almost as important!)
This book was highly recommended by my mother, and as always, she was right—it is so good!! Honestly, this is the book Under the Whispering Door should have been—a deeply sweet, uplifting, and funny read that also thoughtfully tackles ideas of life and death.
Elizabeth Berg has a talent for capturing the little details of life that matter—the things that work us up, that make us tick, that make our lives worth living and bring us together. The original writing style and omniscient third-person narration perfectly capture the humorous observations of these characters without bringing them too close—we might find some of these characters (*coughs* Lucille *coughs*) a smidge irritating in real life, but standing a couple feet away, we can see the beauty that radiates from them. Take Lucille—she has a lot of opinions, but what are opinions but proof that you care about the world and expect better from it?
(And also, I do not mean to throw any shade at Lucille, because she might be my personal favorite of the three—my family immediately started reading aloud the first of two sequels to this book, which revolves around Lucille, and I am thrilled!)
Also, this book is just plain funny. The idiosyncrasies of all three of these characters are even better when they play off of each other, and the ways the characters become closer later in the story brings them together in some delightfully ridiculous ways. And because these characters are so relatable, laughing at the characters invites us to laugh at ourselves too, to find the joy and humor in this difficult world.
I wish I had the time and energy to write a more thoughtful review of this thoughtful story, but I want to emphasize that this book is the perfect comfort read that will actually leave you with things to think about! It is a story of how the young can learn from the old, and the old can learn from the young—and it is a reminder that, when we live in a world that can be so painful and so lonely, what's the harm in allowing ourselves to come together, to carve out a little odd group of people who care about each other?
My rating is: Really good!