Elizabeth Berg * Random House * November 21, 2017 * 240 Pages
Six months after the death of his beloved wife, 85-year old Arthur is still grieving. Every day he visits his wife’s grave and eats lunch by her tombstone. He often “talks” to the people buried around her, too. Well, they seem to talk to him, anyway—sharing their stories, their lives, their deaths.
Arthur is usually alone during these visits, but one day 17-year old Maddy shows up (she’s ditched school to avoid interacting with her bullying classmates). Over time, the two form a friendship: Arthur helps Maddy resolve boyfriend issues and family drama, and Maddy provides Arthur with practical day-to-day care and simple companionship. In the end, they both discover that it’s never too late to find love and connection, even after tremendous loss.
This book has such crazy high ratings on Goodreads, and even though I did enjoy it, I’m not sure I loved it as much as everyone else. There have been a lot of books lately featuring grumpy yet endearing seniors, and I’m just kinda over it. It’s become gimmicky. Arthur is lovable, and his relationship with Maddy is sweet, but the story is predictable and too often cheesy. Yes, I was emotionally invested—I’ll admit that I cried a bunch—but it almost felt cheap, you know? Like overwhelm me with stories about how people were loved and then how they died and, yeah, you’re going to get an emotional response from me. Because loss is sad, and consecutive losses are even sadder. But that’s no substitute for layered, less stereotypical characters and a creative, surprising storyline.
So yeah, the book is entertaining, and I liked reading it well enough, but I wish it had more depth and nuance. Still, if you’re looking for a quick, (mostly) feel-good read, I’m guessing, like most people, you’ll probably enjoy The Story of Arthur Truluv just fine.
Advanced Reader Copy provided by publisher through Net Galley.