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Life After Life by Jill McCorkle Going the Distance Who knew death, regret, and lengthy ruminations about days past could add up to a novel this vibrant, hopeful, and compelling? Jill McCorkle;s gorgeously written Life After Life (Algonquin) unfolds through the alternating perspectives of the folks at Pine Haven Retirement Facility and residents of the North Carolina town in which it's located. Among them the groups moral center, Sadie, as beloved by her fellow seniors as she was by the third graders she taught for 40 years; Rachel, a widowed, retired lawyer still yearning for her adulterous lover of decades earlier; and Stanley, who feigns dementia to avoid living with his son. They're joined by Joanna, a formerly suicidal hospice volunteer, and C.J., a single mother prone to tragically screwed-up relationships with men, who works in the center's beauty salon. In this ambitious novel of multiple, intersecting stories, the unifying theme is nothing less than mortality itself. But McCorkle's greatest gift is in illuminating the countless tiny moments that make up our time on Earth. "We live days and weeks and months and years with so little awareness of life.... But every now and then, on the most average day, it occurs to you that this is it. This is all there is." — Karen Holt Award-winning author Jill McCorkle takes us on a splendid journey through time and memory in this, her tenth work of fiction. Life After Life is filled with a sense of wonder at our capacity for self-discovery at any age. And the residents, staff, and neighbors of the Pine Haven retirement center (from twelve-year-old Abby to eighty-five-year-old Sadie) share some of life’s most profound discoveries and are some of the most true-to-life characters that you are ever likely to meet in fiction. There’s retired third-grade teacher Sadie Randolph, who has taught every child in town and believes we are all eight years old in our hearts; Stanley Stone, a prominent lawyer, now feigning dementia to escape life with his son; Marge Walker, the town’s self-appointed conveyor of social status, who keeps a scrapbook of every local murder and heinous crime; Rachel Silverman, recently widowed, whose decision to leave her Massachusetts home and settle at Pine Haven is a puzzle to everyone but her; C.J., the pierced and tattooed young mother who runs the beauty shop; and Joanna Lamb, the hospice volunteer who discovers that her path to a good life lies in helping people achieve good deaths. As each character ?begins to connect with another, the mysteries and consequences of their lives are revealed. What they eventually learn about themselves and one another will profoundly transform them all. Delivered with her trademark wit, Jill ?McCorkle’s constantly surprising novel illuminates the possibilities of second chances, hope, and rediscovering life right up to the very end. With Life After Life, she has conjured up an ?entire community that reminds all of us that grace and magic can—and do—appear when we least expect it.
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