I wanted a book this week that would be a good, strong story with sympathetic characters. I won the lottery with Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler.
Little Wing, Wisconsin is the childhood home of four friends who all came back to roost. Leland became a famous rocker, Ronny ran the rodeo circuit, Kip was a trader, and Henry still runs the family farm. As adults they find themselves back at home trying to find themselves as they settle into adulthood. This isn't as easy as it sounds, as discovering who you are in the place that knew you as a child means a shift in empathy and a growth in the friendships you have always called dear.
I was hooked on this book from the very first chapter. I understood who these people were and what their relationships signified from the very beginning--and I could tell immediately that there had to be more to the story. Leland, or Lee as his old friends call him, wants nothing more than to be in the home that he loves with the woman he loves--a famous actress whom we all see in the glossies. Only Kip, ever with the posture, sells them out by inviting the paparazzi to his own wedding, alienating all of his friends in the process. Henry and Beth, childhood sweethearts who married and have two beautiful kids, appear to be the most stable of their friends. Poor Ronny who became a little slow after a drunken fall appears to always be the man a step behind. All of these understandings, though, can be turned on dime. You can't always judge these books by their covers.
I was thrown for a bit of a loop in the second chapter when the story shifted perspectives, but as it rolled on I thought it was so important that the story shift as it is not the story of just one person but a group of people whose choices have affected one another whether or not that was the intention. The events take place over the course of about two years, but it's enough to make you fall in love with these men and their loved ones. Marriages will falter, one will fail, and they will each surprise you. This story does such a wonderful job of telling the truth of being a grown-up: marriages are hard yet we jump into them with stars in our eyes; the people we love may turn out to be those don't know at all; we make promises we can't keep and then become broken-hearted when promises are broken on us; and at the end of the day, sometimes belief in those we love is all we have. I loved this book.
Hard copy for purchase below.