Welcome to the Pine Away Motel and Cabins
Bivald (The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
) delves into what’s important in life in this bittersweet tale about life after death. Henny Broek, the novel’s narrator, is only in her 30s when she’s accidentally killed by a passing truck, but she’s not ready to leave those in her life behind—so she moves invisibly through places, and observes interactions. Her lifelong best friend, an audacious lesbian named McKenzie, is running the motel where Henny worked her entire adult life. The other two friends from their teenage quartet have come back to the small town of Pine Creek, Ore., for Henny’s funeral, and they’re staying at the motel. Michael was the love of Henny’s life, but he’d been traveling the world as a successful geologist. Camila, who inherited the motel and had been gone since she went to L.A. after high school to make the transgender transition to her proper female self. Henny hangs out with all of them, trying to interact with them but not seeming to get through, struggling to discover how she can move on. Although her friends are bereaved, they somehow become invigorated by the loss, whether it’s Michael helping his brother get his life on track or all of them painting a pride flag on the high school. In a story about the lives a single person can touch, the highlight is fittingly Bivald’s memorable characterizations, as she makes each person and their needs distinct and complex. This is a winning novel about the lasting impact of love. (Jan.)
This review has been updated to reflect the book's new title.