"Upper Room had encircled the wailing mother and held her up, soundlessly, because hard deaths resist words. A soft death can be swallowed with Called home to be with the Lord or We'll see her again in glory, but hard deaths get caught in the teeth like gristle."

That's a mere aside about a non-character in this novel, however it does a fine job of summing up the essential thing to know about this debut from an obviously talented writer. Two lives are absent from this story, and their hard absences shape these characters in difficult ways. They pull together and push apart, love and hurt one another, in the wakes.

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