07 July 2009

Review: Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy

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
ISBN-13: 9781565126756
Challenges 999, 100+
YTD: 54
Rating: A-


Julie P. 7/7/09, 7:11 AM  

Very well said! I thoroughly enjoyed this book because of how it made me assess my life.

Margot 7/7/09, 7:19 AM  

What beautiful writing. "Snowflakes like tisssues" and "a bowl of fog". I want to read all of this beautiful prose. Thanks for the review.

bermudaonion 7/7/09, 7:43 AM  

Your review is fantastic! Your love for the book is evident in your words. I enjoyed this book, too, but not as much as you did.

Unknown 7/7/09, 7:51 AM  

This does sound good. I don't think I've ever heard of it before - thank you for bringing it to my attention.

Sandy Nawrot 7/7/09, 8:27 AM  

This one has been around blogdom for a few months, and has always intrigued me (I also love the cover). Your review certainly does it justice!

Literary Feline 7/7/09, 8:34 AM  

Great review, Beth. Your description of this book makes it sound so good. I will have to add it to my wish list. I love that first quote!

Stacy 7/7/09, 10:18 AM  

I will be adding this to be tbr list. I am fascinated by what happens to a spouse after the other passes. Thanks.

Anonymous,  7/7/09, 10:36 AM  

I am really looking forward to this one. I almost bought this one over the weekend, but chose something different. Your review makes me think I made the wrong choice!

Anonymous,  7/7/09, 12:23 PM  

Sounds great - I love the colorful cover, too.

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books 7/7/09, 5:27 PM  

You've captured the essence of EVERY LAST CUCKOO; it may not be a "pretty" book, dealing with the aftermath of death and grieving, but it is a *beautiful* book in the way it is written and the seeds Maloy plants in the minds of her readers.

I especially like the opening paragraph of your review - change the names and you have the beginning of your own novel!

Melody 7/7/09, 8:00 PM  

Great review, Beth! I'd love to read this. And on top of that, the cover is lovely!

cindysloveofbooks 7/7/09, 9:08 PM  

I have been seeing this around the blogosphere lately. I love the cover of it. You can tell you really enjoyed the book. Great review.

Jen - Devourer of Books 7/8/09, 8:45 AM  

This was a great book and you gave it a great review.

trish 7/8/09, 11:41 AM  

I agree this book is good no matter where you are in life. It definitely transcends age barriers.

Michele 7/8/09, 12:10 PM  

I haven't read this one yet, but your review just bumped it up to the top of my list!==-

Unknown 7/8/09, 12:54 PM  

Great review. I really need to read this book. The writing does sound wonderful. I love the quotes you provided, very insightful. Seems like a book that just has to be read.

The Reading Momster 7/9/09, 3:38 AM  

WOW! I got my Cover! I love that ONE! And the quotes you have said are all so thought provoking! Awesome review! I really need to search for this book :(

I am sure it will be tooooo costly for me to buy :)

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 7/9/09, 7:24 AM  

Sounds like a winner. I have read another god review of this book. I love the name too.

Anonymous,  7/9/09, 9:39 AM  

i JUST saw this book at a local shop (i'm on vacation!) and had it in my hands...but put it back down. now i'm kicking myself--your review sold it for me. guess i'll have to head back and pick it up--the cover caught my eye and your review caught my attention! thanks. :)

Anonymous,  7/9/09, 4:57 PM  

Sounds like a beautiful book that contemplates on aging and death. It seems morbid but I like stories on old people who cope with life and how they look back on their life.

The Tome Traveller 7/11/09, 1:45 AM  

What a great review, I love books with beautiful writing. I'm adding this one to my list.

Gayla 7/26/09, 5:26 AM  

Thank you for a wonderful review. This has been moved to the top of my list. Once I finished reading "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett, "Every Last Cuckoo" is next.
By the way, have you had a chance to read "The Help"? I have been pleasantly surprised by this amazing novel. So surprised in fact, that after reading only 3 chapters, I quickly grabbed my laptop and ordered my won copy from Barnes&Noble...hee hee!

Thank you again for an insightful review.

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