Monday, January 27, 2020

Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins by Katarina Bivald

Another novel that was high on my can't wait to read list. I picked it up from the bookstore and was a bit surprised at the length-419 pages. It's a hefty paperback. It wasn't a book that I could zip through, either. It took me a few weeks to dig in and finish it. I'm on the fence about it; I think I'm in the middle of loving it and not loving it. 

I think, upon reflection, that I was expecting more of a Fannie Flagg-esque story, and this was not at all a Fannie Flagg flavored story. It starts with the sudden death of Henny Broek. She's happily thinking of Michael, the love of her life. He's back in town, and she just spent the day with him. She absentmindedly steps onto the road and is hit by a truck. Instantly dead. Henny is only 33, and can't believe she's dead. 

The story unfolds as Henny hangs around, watching her friends and her family cope with her sudden death. Henny has no idea why she's still around, but decides after a few days that maybe she's supposed to help her friends figure a few things out. All of this takes place around the Pine Away Motel and Cabins, where Henny lived and worked alongside her childhood best friend MacKenzie. Henny's father is completely devastated by Henny's death, and withdraws from his quiet life in Pine Creek. A rumor around town sends him to stay at the motel, away from prying eyes. Henny tries to communicate with her friends, but they remain oblivious to her presence. She spends the next days and weeks hanging around the motel and the town of Pine Creek. Unfortunately for her, she isn't able to just show up, but has to walk or run to get where she's going. So far death isn't at all what she expected. She's stuck in Pine Creek. 

Henny's friends Michael, MacKenzie, and Camila have plenty of problems, and Henny is determined to try and fix them. There are pretty deep issues explored--family expectations, familial guilt, transgender and lesbian issues, and very deep conservative Christian attitudes that turn the town upside down. All of this slowly ramps up to a showdown that may spell the end of the Pine Away Motel and Cabins. Meanwhile, Henny is trying her best to heal a lot of wounds and help her friends find peace and happiness. 

It's an interesting book. It's kind of slow and it is quirky in places. For me, it was a reminder that those who have left us leave an irreplaceable place in our lives. Sometimes their death is the catalyst to making changes in our lives that help us find and embrace our best selves, if we are brave enough to do it. 

I think this would make a good book club title. There's plenty to discuss, and I'm sure everyone would have a favorite character. It's the kind of book that keeps unfolding the more you think about it. 

Rating: 3/6 for a look at life, death, and the meaning of it all. Interesting characters with a lot of problems, including Henny, who suddenly finds herself dead. A lot to discuss!

Available in paperback, large print, and ebook. 

1 comment :

  1. I like what I’ve previously read of this author, and I’d like to read this one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts