Every once in a while you stumble across a true gem; and The Distance Between Us qualifies as one of those gems. The book is classified by the Publisher as a GLBT title for reasons I do not understand. Yes, one of the main characters happens to be gay, but it is hardly the point of the story.
The story revolves mainly around Hester, a compelling old lady. Although I am not altogether sure she would appreciate that description. Because she uses anger to hold the world at bay, she is not exactly a likable character. An extremely articulate and witty character; but not so likeable. She is bitter; she drinks to much; she is acerbic and does not suffer fools.
Her children, particularly her daughter, are as hostile and verbally adept as she. Her ex-husband is just flat out disgusted with her and the circumstances of their divorce. This is one dysfunctional, unhappy family!
It is an interesting phenomena of life that if the message is right, the messenger hardly matters. And Alex is a most unlikely messenger. He is a a bright secretive and troubled young man. A totally unlikely catalyst for acceptance and forgiveness.
While Heather and her family use words and booze as a way to run away from pain; Alex has actually physically run away from his. Heather and Alex are two wounded souls who come together and somehow help each other heal.
Yates is a powerful writer. His characters are finely nuanced and is use of language is exquisite. But the real power is his writing comes from his ability to inject just the right amount of humor into an otherwise painful story. The humor makes it readable and memorable long after the last words are read.
This is an amazing story! Check it out for yourself!
Here is the publisher synopsis:
Hester Parker resides in an elegant Victorian house in the town of Bolton, Illinois. She spends her evenings listening to the lush tones of Mahler and Chopin, drinking sub-par Merlot, and reflecting on a life that has suddenly fallen apart. At seventy-one, Hester is as brilliant and sharp-tongued as ever, capable of inspiring her music students to soaring heights or reducing them to tears with a single comment. But her wit can't hide the bitterness that comes with losses: the loss of her renowned violinist husband, Arthur Donovan, who left her for another woman, and the loss of her career as a concert pianist after injuring her wrist.
When Hester decides to rent out the attic apartment to Alex, a young college student, she has no idea of the impact he will have on her life and her family. Good-natured and awkward, with secrets of his own, Alex becomes an unlikely confidant and a means of reconnecting with the world outside Hester's window. But his presence also exposes old memories and grief that Hester has tried to bury. Over the course of one remarkable month, Hester will confront angry accusations, long-hidden jealousies, and the inescapable truth that tore her family apart and might, against all odds, help reconcile them again. And her brief friendship with Alex will leave each with a surprising legacy -- acceptance of the past, a seed of comfort in the present, and hope for the future, wherever it may lead.
"Absorbing. . .brims with quiet intensity."--Publishers Weekly