cover image Waiting for Augusta

Waiting for Augusta

Jessica Lawson. Simon & Schuster, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4814-4839-0

In a story set in 1972 in a South pushing back against integration, Lawson (Nooks & Crannies) delivers a complex and often touching exploration of father-son relationships. Ben Putter's recently deceased father, a passionate golfer who never went pro, seemed perpetually disappointed with his shy son, who lives to draw and paint. When he starts speaking to Ben from the urn that holds his ashes, Ben%E2%80%94in an act that goes against everything in his nature%E2%80%94sets out to scatter the ashes on the 18th hole of the Augusta National Golf Club, 400 miles away, accompanied by a runaway named Noni who has her own, unexplained, reasons for needing to get to Augusta. Their journey follows a few predictable lines%E2%80%94taking on fake identities, hopping freight trains, and truck stealing%E2%80%94and some atypical ones, such as Ben expertly butchering a pig. Throughout, Ben and his father have the conversations they couldn't when his father was alive. Ben and Noni are believable characters whose contrasting personalities play well against each other, but the story's magical elements mix uneasily with its strong foundation of realism. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. (May)