If I could give 3.5 stars, I would I can t, so I m defaulting to 3 I will say that the writing in this book was exquisite There were some incredibly poignant lines of prose in this book, and Todd Johnson is undoubtedly to be commended for that Beautiful That being said, I just didn t come away from this book feeling as connected to these women as I had thought The book initially drew me in another kudos to the amazing prose , but it never brought me further There was suggestion of strong and meaningful relationships between these women, but it was mostly a suggestion The story jumped forward in time so rapidly for me that I never felt the connection build I ll use Rhonda as an example She talks about the amazing love and friendship that she has built with Margaret and Bernice and how it allows her to open herself to excepting love, but you never really see it, or I didn t I saw a couple of scenes of her doing their hair, then BAM she s married I expected a bigger building of the relationships, her slowly unfolding in the light of their interest in her as a foil to her own grandmother s lack of love and interest , and a progression of her relationship with Mike as she begins to open her heart up Instead, all of this was very rapidly implied.This tended to be the way most of the storyline worked Instead of drawing the story out, it was implied in favor of character vignettes With the exception of Lorraine and Margaret s relationship, I felt like I was just being asked to assume the women had grown close.Based on the stellar ratings that everyone else gives this book, I m probably very alone out there, but I just felt like this was a little disjointed for me Beautiful writing thoughbeautiful. Meet Five North Carolina Women Who Are About To Change The Way You Think About Friendship For Rhonda, A Gritty, Fun Loving Hairdresser In Tight Jeans, The Sights And Smells Of Ridgecrest Nursing Center Are Depressing But Before She Can Change Her Mind About Working There, Two Residents Glue Themselves To Her Margaret, Droll And Whip Smart, With A Will Of Iron That Never Fails Her Even When Her Body Does, And Bernice, An Avid Country Music Fan Who Is Rarely Lucid Together With Lorraine, Their Church Going, God Questioning Nurse, And Her Daughter, April, Bright And Ambitious, They Lock Arms In Courage And Humor For A Journey That Speaks To Us All Of How We Live And Die, Of How We Love And Forgive I found this gem of a book at the Good Will store the other night and while I barely glanced at the blurb, I just thought I d heard about it somewhere and picked it up I read it in one and half days It s that delicious It s exactly the kind of read I need right now while my Dad is in the nursing home It really is a gem You would think the premise of the book would be depressing because no one likes to talk about growing old and becoming dependent on others and no one wants to admit that either Death should not be a messy business It should be quiet and peaceful and definitely to happen in the twilight years This book is about Lorraine, a LPN who takes care of the people in the nursing home Then there s Margaret, a resident who lives there and her friend Bernice, who seems to be crazy Then there s Rhonda, the local beautican who comes in once a week to do their hair There s April, Lorraine s daughter who tells her side of the story as well Their lives all entertwined through the days and while it is a bittersweet story, it really is about life affirming life and yes, death is part of the days, but the author presented it in a graceful way It happens It is going to happen and this story is just delightful. This is such a profound book on so many levels that everyone should read it One astonishing fact is that the author is a male, writing about females with exquisite sensitivity and insight, and not just any females elderly females and a couple younger ones The book is written from the viewpoints of the 5 main characters two aging women in a nursing home, their main caregiver, a hairdresser who works part time at the nursing home, and the daughter of the caregiver No, this may not sound like exquisite reading but it is Todd Johnson is a master of words This story may change how you think about old age and other ages as well It may change how you treat people and what you decide to do sometimes The story is charming, funny, sad, upbeat, revealing, and profound And it s oh so real.I hope this author writes many books. 4.5 stars This is a first time author, a man who knows how to write women s characters I loved the 5 women of this story, especially Lorraine, the care giver at a nursing home I enjoyed her spunk, admired her faith, and the closeness she had both to God, the dear ladies she deeply cared for This a fun novel, but also touches on the aging process, and it taught me about compassion I would recommend this if you like women s fiction, and have a Grandma you miss. I was in tears towards the end of this book So many memories of my grandmother and mother towards the end of their lives A story that says all lives are important and to be cherished I loved all these women in the story and admire their courage and steadfastness.Oh, and that a man would write this with such emotion Highly recommended This book was such a pleasant surprise, I had no idea the story takes place in a retirement home, not that it diminishes the enjoyment, I simply haven t read books with that background before even though I m well familiar with such a place My favorite character, really witty and hilarious Margaret made this book a real pleasure to read, I simply couldn t wait to get back into it, to see what she would reveal to me as her days pass by Living in a place where holidays are depressing she befriends Bernice and watches over her friend while trying to deal with her own aging body and mind The ladies get into all sorts of innocent trouble but all under a watchful eye of a nurse who has a heart of gold When a hair dresser gets hired to help out with the overall feeling of happiness in the place, unusual bonds and friendships start up with people she thought she had very little in common with.Bernice and Margaret s youth is revisited in stories and they realize that their future is shaped by their past People whose parents are in the home remember meeting them when they were just kids and suddenly remember the old days gone by, sweet and little sorrowful the novel is heartwarming and actually really funny in parts, that just proves that good humor and wonderful story telling doesn t stop with books about your people, everyone has a story to tell and time only adds flavor. This is a must read book Debut novel by Todd Johnson is not to be missed It tells the tale of five southern women and how this separate lives mesh together Characters include Margaret Clayton, fiesty, sharp as a tack, ninety year old woman in a nursing home Bernice Stokes, short on memory due to grief and old age and befriended by Margaret LPN African American Lorraine who cares for the residents of the nursing home and has suffered a hard life but is a God fearing woman who believes anyone at any age and stage of illness deserves respect April, Lorraine s highly intelligent daughter, who is working hard at becoming a physician and finally, Rhonda, the hair dresser who comes to the nursing home once and week and who has never have love or acceptance in her life These five women share an unlikely bond that will have you laughing, crying and shaking your head Though old age and death and main topics, Mr Johnson has handled them with aplomb and dignity The characters are vividly depicted, NC vernacular right on the mark and topic wonderfully addressed This story will stay with you long after you have turned the last page I definite keeper Wow, what a fantastic story of 5 women of different ages and from very different backgrounds whose lives come together in a journey of courage, hope, and humour.You ll fall in love with the characters Lorraine, a church going, God questioning nurse, befriends Margaret and Bernice in the old age home she works at April, Lorraine s daughter struggles her way through medical school Rhonda, the beer drinking hairdresser comes in and does the ladies hair on her days off and has a sassy way of talking And Bernice, who drags around her doll Mr Benny ends up with heartbreak when she loses him in a drastic fire in a bbq LOLIf this was ever a permanent collection novel to be kept to be read and read again, then for me anyway, this is it I haven t enjoyed a novel as much as this one in a loooong time How can a male author create such authentic female characters Of the five female voices that tell this story, four of them specifically stole my heart right from the beginning Bernice and Margaret have the most heartwarming relationship in a North Carolina nursing home where Lorraine works as a nurse s aide Rhonda, reluctantly at first, spends one day a week with the residents as their hairdresser, and comes to lose her heart to Bernice and Margaret I laughed out loud at the antics of the country music loving Bernice who seems to not be quite with the real world and the proper Southern lady Margaret But know that there will be tears before you finish this wonderfully engaging novel I unfalteringly love southern novels, but I think this one deserves my love.
Todd Johnson s bestselling first novel THE SWEET BY AND BY received the 2010 Connecticut Book Award The novel was also named a PEOPLE Great Reads For Your Book Club Pick, a REAL SIMPLE Entertainment Selection, and a 2010 Books A Million Book Club selection.Johnson has been a teacher and session singer in New York City and received a Tony Award nomination as a producer of THE COLOR PURPLE on B
- 336 pages
- The Sweet By and By
- Todd Johnson
- 19 July 2017 Todd Johnson