What do a 24-year-old naive city girl, an alcoholic, an 11-year-old and a curmudgeon old man have in common? Some might say nothing. But in Home to Woefield by Susan Juby, they have a lot in common. An unlikely friendship and a desolate farm in Canada. It's aptly named, Woefield. It's a place where nothing grows, but someone does have hope for it. Misguided hope perhaps.
Prudence Burns tried to live an environmentally friendly and organic lifestyle in Brooklyn, but some people found her to be a little extreme. Inheriting a farm in Canada from her dead uncle comes at the right time. She has big ideas, but really has no idea how to run a farm. She thinks she does. Prudence has this wide-eyed, innocent quality about her. For her everything is possible even when others say it isn't.
Part of inheriting the farm includes letting her uncle's longtime friend Earl live on the land. Earl is a cantankerous old man. Texting, DVDs, Blackberry and too much talking are like a foreign language to Earl. At first he thinks Prudence is one of those "slow" relatives. He tries to understand Prudence, but sometimes there are miscommunications. She says "foyer" and he hears "four year." She needs his help in making Woefield great again, an idea that he thinks is ridiculous.
Seth lives across the road from Woefield. He ends up living and working for Prudence after his mother throws him out. His mother wants him to grow up after the "thing" with the high school drama teacher. I was curious as to what the "thing" was. It's hinted at, but you don't find out until later in the book. The "thing" with the drama teacher led Seth to alcohol. When he's not drinking he blogs about celebrities and music. Seth thinks blogging gives him a clue as to how the world works, but how wrong he is. Seth doesn't want to grow up. He doesn't know how to take care of himself. He sabotages his job with Prudence every chance he gets with alcohol binges. Earl can only roll his eyes as "chubnuts" fails at everything in his life.
Then there is 11-year-old Sara. Her parents fight constantly. Sara retreats into caring for her chickens. whom Prudence allows to live and grow on her farm. Sara is super-organized and constantly worrying about people going to hell. Books are portals of knowledge for her. Knowledge that Earl questions, but eventually comes around too. Sara wastes no time ordering Earl around when it comes to building a chicken coop.
Who would put this grow together? There are generation gaps, philosophical differences, educational differences. The list could go on. But there is a strong friendship there. When everyone else wants to give up on Seth, Prudence gives him another chance. Earl retreats within himself, but Sara finds a way in. When necessary everyone sticks up for each other.
For Susan Juby's adult debut, it's great. There is a good mix of drama and laughter, check it out.
Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (HarperCollins) in exchange for an honest review. For more information on Susan Juby visit: http://www.susanjuby.com/index.htm