Published: October 14, 2014
College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe’s life is ever the same.
Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran–and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.
As Joe writes about Carl’s life, especially Carl’s valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory.
Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?
This book is like a tree with many branches – the story is the tree and the sub-story lines are the branches and it makes for a wonderful thoughtful tale of a young man used to taking on burdens beyond his years—none more dangerous than championing a dying old man convicted of a horrific crime.
What starts out as a college English assignment leads Joe and his stand-offish neighbor, Lila and his autistic brother, Jeremy discover that a man in prison for thirty years and recently put in a nursing home because he’s dying of cancer is not guilty of the crime which locked him away. They run into many obstacles but will not be deterred and eventually get the proof they need. Add in a drunk mother, losing his college fund and getting badly beaten by the killer and you have a very thought provoking novel. I loved it.
I really think you need to add it to your “to be read” list.