A Year After Henry

Sourcebooks Landmark. Aug. 2014. 272p. ISBN 9781402296789. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781402296796. F
Pelletier (The One-Way Bridge) introduces a new small Maine town, Bixley, whose residents are coming to terms with the first anniversary of Henry Munroe's untimely death. Up until his heart attack at 41, Henry was a charmer: the star high school quarterback who married the popular cheerleader, his parents' favorite son, a dashing dad. But not everyone in Bixby is eager to attend the memorial service Henry's parents have planned. His wife, Jeanie, had been just about to confront him with the evidence of his many affairs the morning he died. His brother, Larry, is in love with Henry's former lover, Evie, a bartender at Murphy's Tavern. Henry's teenage son, Chad, is adrift, lost in his own grief.
VERDICT Pelletier's setup has much potential, but unfortunately the narrative is choppy and disjointed, the insights trite. A side plot in which Evie confronts a coworker's abusive boyfriend is nearly ridiculous—a wish-fulfilled fantasy perhaps but completely unrealistic. Evie's talent—sketching portraits of ghosts—is silly, and the constant mentions of her "smoking a joint" are tedious. Readers who enjoyed Pelletier's novels set in Mattagash may be willing to overlook these shortcomings; others may not be impressed.
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