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Long Way Back, Brendan Halpin

2010/03/31

Clare Kelly is the narrator of this novel about family, faith, and what it means to lose someone you love. Clare and her brother Francis are children of hippie activists; Clare reacts by attempting to become a punk rock rebel, but goes on to become a nurse, while Francis latches onto the Catholic faith, eventually going on to work with youth — and he does it well. The narrative begins in their childhood, and jumps and skips around until Clare is married with children, and Francis meets and marries a doctor named Lourdes (the summary is intentionally vague because of spoilers).

The characters in this novel wrestle with the idea of faith in the face of tragedy and heartbreak, and are sometimes brutally honest about their idea of God. To one character, music becomes a way to counter and come to grips with grief, and the hole that is left in a life when a beloved one dies.

There are several plot twists in this novel, which make it difficult to write about without spoiling any of them. It is an engaging and fast-paced read which explores ideas of faith and the power of music.

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