I remember seeing this book floating around on Goodreads for years after it was released. It even spent some time on my TBR before I attempted to limit books I needed to read. Despite being cut, it found its way back to my shelves with the help of Libro.fm‘s sale, and I’m glad it did. This book offered a great listening experience. It was so gripping, I kept forgetting I was listening to Fiction. In fact, this story seemed so realistic at some points, I started Googling to find out if it had really happened.
College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe’s life is ever the same.
Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran–and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.
As Joe writes about Carl’s life, especially Carl’s valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory.
Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?
I’m a sucker for any book with elderly characters telling their stories and this was no exception. I think this was a great reminder to be slower to make assumptions about people based on the opinions of others or people’s past experiences. Life is tricky and full of gray areas for all of us. I love nothing more than when books are able to drop us in those gray areas and make us question what we would do in a particular situation or question the values we thought we had nailed down.
I can’t say I’ve ever experienced a work of fiction quite like this one. The realistic feel mixed with the suspense was quite intriguing. I enjoyed listening to this audio and would recommend this to anyone looking for something fairly short and easy to listen to. I was able to do other activities without needing to focus super attentively to the story, while still being sucked in and eager to hear more.
Rating: 4 stars