A post 9-11 novel, the setting for Ohio is a gritty, dying town New Canaan, a small town in northeast Ohio. Hard hit by the economic downturn, the dirty town whose major industries are long gone and the biggest employer is Walmart.
The story at the heart of Ohio is like a lot of stories. The heroes of the town have been the high school football players, getting away with more than the average high school kids do, just as they have for generations. But these kids have little in common with high school heroes of the past: one dies serving his country in the Middle East; one commits suicide; one OD's and accidentally sets fire to his apartment building, killing a couple as he does so; and one leaves town abruptly, vanished like the hope of the future.
Ten years after graduating, four classmates return to 'The Cane’, where their stories are told, constantly intertwining. Stephen Markley writes what has happened in so much of our country post recession: the opiod problem, ridiculously unpopular wars, violence at every turn in life, mounting economic pressures, divisive political upheaval and every other dirty little secret every small town has seen in this era. This was a hard novel to read, as the reader recognizes those once bustling small towns in the throes of death, wherever they are from. Well written with excellent development of character, Stephen Markley takes us on a trail of flatlined middle America, where the hope of a country died. A solid four and 1/2 stars, only because it was a book that needed to rest for a while before voyaging on. If you want a cheery, little read, this isn’t is. This will make you sad for a generation that could have and deserved more than we gave them.
Thank you to #NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
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Reader, Traveler, Reviewer. Come join us as we travel the US in our RV. I review books.