An unforgettable novel about the power of friendship and kindness by the New York Times bestselling author of Pay It Forward.
In the summer of 1969, fourteen-year-old Lucas Painter carries a huge weight on his shoulders. His brother is fighting in Vietnam. His embattled parents are locked in a never-ending war. And his best friend, Connor, is struggling with his own family issues. To find relief from the chaos, Lucas takes long, meandering walks, and one day he veers into the woods.
There he discovers an isolated cabin and two huge dogs. Frightened, he runs. And the dogs run with him. Lucas finds unusual peace in running with the dogs, and eventually he meets their owner, Zoe Dinsmore. Closed off and haunted by a tragic past, Zoe has given up. She doesn’t want to be saved. She wants out. But Lucas doesn’t want her to go, and he sees an opportunity to bring more than one friend back into the light. It’s either the best or worst idea he’s ever had, but Lucas isn’t giving up on Zoe or Connor.
Their unexpected connection might be the saving grace that Zoe thought she’d lost, that Connor needs, and that Lucas has been running toward.
This book really made an impact on me. It featured a brave young teenager, Lucas Painter, amongst a number of broken people like his best friend Connor and a community neighbor Zoe. This story was set during Vietnam so the author addressed issues such as depression, physical disability issues and addictions.
Lucas was the real MVP in this story, along some pets (2 dogs and a cat). Despite his own issues, he tried his best to be supportive of those around him who had serious issues.
The biggest thing that I took from this book is that it takes strength to keep going. When a tragedy occurs, there are two types of forgiveness that we look for: Forgiveness from the ones we hurt, and Forgiveness from ourselves. It focused on how connection to others as well as ourselves. Forgiving yourself for hurting someone or punishing yourself for hurting someone is part of many people’s journey after a traumatic event. This book dealt with it in a humane yet emotionally intense way.
This is a well written and poignant story life, the good, the bad and the ugly. Even the ending wasn’t perfectly wrapped up with a pretty bow. But for all the people in the story, their redemption was due to the relationships and connections they formed with others. A very thought provoking story.