Todd Johnson, Author of 'The Sweet By and By' - Finding Compassion andGoodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover.
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Johnson's bittersweet and often humorous hen-lit debut portrays the lives of five very different Southern women: compassionate Lorraine, bossy Margaret, grief-stricken Bernice, ambitious April and brusque Rhonda. At the center of this character-driven novel is Lorraine, a nurse at the nursing home where Margaret and Bernice live. As the three women drift into friendship, hairdresser Rhonda arrives to take a part-time job, and the older women begin to change her life. Lorraine's daughter, April, meanwhile, is also gradually drawn into the circle. The story unfolds slowly over decades and life milestones, giving the characters plenty of time to reveal themselves.
“I am in love with this book -- the language, the story, the sass. Five women bickering, judging, loving, growing old together. You won't stop laughing, even when.
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Thank you! Lorraine, an African-American practical nurse, suppresses traumatic memories of an abusive husband and the crib death of her firstborn by concentrating on creating a semblance of normalcy for her charges at Ridgecrest, a North Carolina nursing home. Rhonda, painfully conscious of her poor white origins, does hair at Ridgecrest once a week, and, spurred on by Margaret, Lorraine and Bernice, gradually gains self-acceptance. After the adventure proves too much for Bernice she passes away in her sleep in the hotel room , the story loses whatever impetus it had. Letters left behind, written by Bernice to her beloved younger son Wade after his death in a car crash, convincingly if anticlimactically document her descent into madness.
Instead, he tackles what could be called the interim by and by, the thing so many of us fear—life in a nursing home and the final stages of aging. And he manages to take some of the sting out of what can be a painful experience. Raised in the South, Johnson was close to his four grandparents and spent much time with them, especially his grandmothers when they entered nursing homes in North Carolina. We begin to experience the nursing home through their eyes. The usual suspects show up—the unsavory staff members, the impatient and uninvolved family members, the bouts of ill health. But something hopeful emerges as well.