After more than fifty years, the marriage of Sarah and Charles Lucas has settled in to a comfortable rhythm. The tempo of their relationship, however, has not been steady—excitement, sadness, love, and coolness have all affected the pace.
At seventy-five years old, Sarah has seen six generations of her family and is looking forward to great-grandchildren so she can be in the exact middle of all the relatives she’ll ever remember. And although she knows death, from the tragically young to the grateful old, she was not prepared to face sudden widowhood, especially because Charles was still so vigorous.
The story of Sarah's first year of the last quarter of her life crosses time and pushes boundaries. Familiar chores cease to have meaning, and old wounds no longer matter. Memories can be so startling that it seems as if they were able to stop time. Yet without thought or score, new tempos take over in almost incremental steps, and one day, life seems to be bursting with possibility.
Every Last Cuckoo examines much more than death and grieving; it is a novel about life, families, relationships, and personal growth. It's about learning to recognize that almost everyone, no matter his or her age or situation, has something to teach us. And throughout we are treated to Maloy's evocative prose.
While looking in the mirror:
Sarah took in the evidence of age not knowing whether to laugh or cry. How many girls and women she had been—she carried a multitude inside who shared only memory and character traits. (p. 200)
The widowed Sarah recalls this advice:
I promise, you will survive this," she had said. "Not only that, you will learn things you could never have learned when you shared your life with him. You will become yourself." (p. 224)
And three random quotations:
The day after Christmas, flakes as light as torn tissue eddied in the middle air. (p. 63)
After the spring rains came down, the dirt roads braided themselves with glistening, axle-deep ruts full of sucking mud. (p. 119)
The gap between the two ridges to the southeast was a bowl full of fog. (p. 184)
Through Sarah's transformation and adaptation to a newly composed life, Maloy has brilliantly captured one woman's path to rediscovery and an unexpected purpose.
Whether you approve of Sarah's choices, agree with how she relates to her children, or understand the individual philosophies of her friends and family, Every Last Cuckoo will give you plenty to think about and discuss. I highly recommend this book, no matter where you are on life's journey.
Kate Maloy has a website where you can learn more about her work.
Every Last Cuckoo won the ALA's Reader List Award for Women's Fiction
Published by Algonquin Books, 2009
Challenges 999, 100+