Monday, June 17, 2013

The Rockin' Chair: Family Is The Foundation for Everything by Steven Manchester

The Rockin’ Chair: Family Is The Foundation for Everything. Steven Manchester. The Story Plant.  June 2013. 272 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9781611880670.

John McCarthy is mourning the upcoming loss of the love of his life, Edie, who has Alzheimer’s disease and is rapidly fading.  No memories but that of her childhood, and even those distorted, she lives in fear and recognizes no one. After she passes away, John calls his only son, Hank, and his three grandchildren home. He knows that the entire family is wounded but he also knows that this familial love is everything and not to be compared with anything else in life.

Hank, however, wants nothing to do with John initially, as all he remembers is a critical, harsh parent who showed very little love and who treated him like a child even when he became a responsible adult.  The wounds are so deep the reader will wonder if even a Herculean effort on John’s part can mend the pain that Hank washes away in beer.  Hank’s eldest son is a war hero but holds a secret that shames him into paralysis.  The next son has lost his love through betrayal and doesn’t know if he can move forward to be the great writer he has dreamed of becoming for years.  And finally, Hank’s daughter is a drug addict and alcoholic who is ashamed of her life and the poor mother she believes herself to be.

The pages fly by in the process of confrontation, grudging small moments of agreement and relishing some few fond memories, and a journey of healing that will melt the hardest of hearts!  For there are things about John that neither his son nor grandchildren know, some to be revealed before his death and some afterwards. 

A new chapter is forged for the McCarthy family, one forged from excruciating pain interwoven with tender scenes of understanding and reconciliation. 

Steven Manchester is master of writing a heart-throbbing family story, one that always satisfies readers because it refuses to descend into a maudlin atmosphere and doesn’t brook foolish talk.  It thrives because it is the crafting of a story that elicits the deepest wishes of head and heart for all readers, indeed for all humanity, a sense of family, a real sense of what “home” could be. The Rockin’ Chair undeniably deserves wide acclaim!

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