That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

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Synopsis from Goodreads: Thirty years ago, on their Cape Cod honeymoon, Jack and Joy Griffin made a plan for their future that has largely been fulfilled. He left Los Angeles behind for the sort of New England college his parents had aspired to, and now the two of them are back on the Cape—where he’d also spent his childhood vacations—to celebrate the marriage of their daughter Laura’s best friend. Sure, Jack’s been driving around with his father’s ashes in the trunk, though his mother’s very much alive and often on his cell phone. Laura’s boyfriend seems promising, but be careful what you pray for, especially if it happens to come true. A year later, at her wedding, Jack has another urn in the car, and both he and Joy have brought new dates. Full of every family feeling imaginable, wonderfully comic and profoundly involving, That Old Cape Magic is surprising, uplifting and unlike anything this Pulitzer Prize winner has ever written.

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My thoughts: Jack Griffin was raised by two incredibly cynical and judgmental people. He spends his life trying to forget, or get past the fact, that they are his parents. That Old Cape Magic is about a year in Jack’s life – a year of upheaval. He’s in his 50s and things have come undone. After carrying his parents’ ashes around in the trunk of his car for months, he is faced with having to get rid of them – both from his trunk and his life – or, at the very least, come to terms with them. Easier said than done.

Richard Russo takes us along for the ride and what a ride it is. Readers of a certain age will probably identify with Jack at some point. As we follow him over the course of a year, we learn a lot about his upbringing. I don’t know how he made it out of childhood intact. Well, I guess he made it – but not intact. Good grief! Eventually he met and married Joy and set out to live life far away from his parents (but near her family). More than thirty years later Jack is forced into making decisions about his future while pondering his past. You’ll have to find out yourself how it all plays out. In the end, it was the novel I’ve come to expect from Russo.