I must admit that I was drawn to this book for all the wrong reasons - quite simply, I picked it up because it has a really endearing and colorful cover. I'm sure many of you are groaning, rolling your eyes and thinking of that overused adage about the book versus its cover, and sure enough, I was surprised by the contents. Under the sweet, unassuming cover art lays a book plotted with many controversial ideas. If you're looking for a book club selection that will spark discussion, Every Last Cuckoo is sure to generate passionate responses on all sides. This beautifully written novel tells the story of 75-year-old Sarah Lucas, whose husband dies from a seemingly absurd and preventable injury sustained on a walk near their home. Yet the story is not consumed with sadness; the novel touches on loss and grief of many kinds, but the main focus is on the radical changes Sarah undergoes once she finds herself a widow. After a period of intense, isolated grieving, she must figure out how to live. She begins accumulating a strange group of houseguests, each with their own struggles and sorrows. This motley crew includes an Israeli professor trying to write a book, several unruly teenagers, a young mother whose husband is dying, a victim of spousal abuse, and others. While this may sound like a depressed group of dysfunctional people, they unite to form a very loving, albeit unique, family. The most poignant parts of the story highlight Sarah's self-discovery; she finds new interests, confronts some of her more traditional views, and reevaluates her relationships and her past. Sarah turns out to be a very passionate and dynamic protagonist and the plot surprises with a mix of spiritual, even transcendental moments and unexpected drama. Many points in the book will thrill some and shock others, yet all fiction lovers will enjoy Kate Maloy's expertly crafted and highly visual phrases.
Recommended by Erica Jesonis