Pearl Tull is dying. As she slips into unconciousness she thinks about her struggle to raise her two sons, Cody and Ezra and her daughter Jenny after her husband walked out on her when they were very young. Now grown up, her children, however, see their childhood quite differently. As family events are told from their varying viewpoints, a complex story of hurt, jealousy, resentment and disappointment arises.
I have never yet read an Ann Tyler novel that disappoints and this is no exception. In her easy style she brilliantly exposes the reality beneath the outer skin. Her characters are so real, you can almost touch them. Sometimes you want to hug them; at other times you want to wring their necks!
Was Pearl a good mother? The answer, as in all Ann Tyler's novels, is yes and no. She did what she thought was best in the circumstances. And is this family any happier or more damaged than any other? The answer again is more complex than any other novel I have read. But this is not a heavy read. It is witty, funny, but above all, true. Wonderful.