Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Book Review: "A Quiet Life" by Ethan Joella

A Quiet Life is one of those books that grabs your heart and doesn’t let go.

A Little Hope, the debut novel by Ethan Joella, was one of my absolute favorite books last year. I received an advance copy and knew nothing about it, and still can’t get it out of my mind. So when Ethan offered me an advance copy of his upcoming novel, you bet I said yes—but I’ve been holding on to it since it doesn’t come out until November.

This is another of those books that sneaks up on you and hooks you completely. But, like the title says, it’s a quiet story, about love, about overcoming grief and taking tentative steps toward something new, and about our desperate need for connection, especially in times of trouble.

“Maybe loving someone so deeply means accepting the fact that they occupy a specific, clear place in you. You accept that there will be a hole if you lose them—the same way a painting or photograph will leave its shadow on the wall after it’s gone, the way a tree will leave a crater where the roots and stump were.”

The book follows the lives of three characters—Chuck, a widower still coming to terms with grief and guilt after his wife’s death, as he tries to will himself to make their annual sojourn to Hilton Head without her; Ella, a young mother struggling to hold on after her daughter goes missing; and Kirsten, whose father’s unexpected death has left her in a kind of emotional limbo. The three will interact in ways that will change them profoundly.

Joella’s storytelling, the emotions he imbues his story with, and the characters he has created, are so exceptional. It’s powerful without being flashy, and it touches you without being maudlin.

Thanks so much to Ethan and Scribner Books for the advance copy in exchange for an unbiased review!! The book will publish 11/29.

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