The Best of Good by Sara Lewis
The Best of GoodTom Good is in his 40’s, single, living in a small, unkempt apartment, and works as a bartender. When he was still in his teens he had been part of a band and had written some songs that became hits. He walked away from band life because he hated all the people that came with “fame”. Between his job and royalties, Good has enough to keep himself fairly isolated from life, playing his guitar in his closet and socializing only with his sister. He avoids the elderly woman upstairs, Jeannette, because she talks forever and woman next door, Robin, with the four noisy children.
One night an acquaintance drops by the bar and gives Good some astounding news. An ex-girlfriend has moved back into town. She has a ten-year-old son that looks just like Good. He has a son? Why hadn’t Diana ever told him? Instead she walked out of his life and never came back for her stuff. She was tired of him stagnating right where he was. Ten years later he is in that same place. But now he has a son?
This is Good’s coming-of-age story – about 20 years later than most people. He has to face up to the trauma of his past. It is told in first person narrative so the reader doesn’t realize right away how narrow his life has become. It has the quiet, optimistic tone I’ve learned to expect from Sara Lewis’ novels.
The Best of Good takes place in 2001. One theme in the book is the way people reacted and handled the Twin Towers terrorist attack. Not only did it affect each character personally, but also in how they interact with each other. The shock and disbelief is expressed at various times. It is part of the happenings that take Good out of his shell to finally become a responsible, valuable adult. It isn’t a major theme, but colors the rest of the novel.
It’s interesting to the reader to watch Good as he starts contradicting himself and his beliefs. Acknowledging an unknown son gets him out of his isolation and has him finally examining his own life. I like the tone of the book and get caught up in Good’s life.
But The Best of Good is lacking strength. Even the highs and lows of Good’s story flatten out whether it’s his fear of the adoring public, the non-relationship with his parents, or his realization that he’s in love. The surface story is told, the depth is alluded to, but never quite comes out.
Even so, I liked the book and like Sara Lewis’ writing. At this time this appears to be the last novel she’s published (from 2003). I hope there’s another one in the works. In the meantime, there are still a couple older novels I haven’t read yet.