|image from LibraryThing|
This is the story of Joe Andreson and finding his view of Mount Joy!
He's your typical high hockey star - a good kid whose father was killed and whose mother is trying. So, the story opens with Joe moving to Minneapolis as a senior in high school. Joe becomes fast pals with Darva, the girl who is amazing, but doesn't quite fit in and Kristi Casey the girl who is everything and will let you know that. Joe and Darva have a deep friendship that stays a friendship for a lifetime. Kristi is a user of everything: drugs, people, money, prestige, and most of all Joe. She pops in and out of his life at her whim. Joe falls under her spell for brief moments and then comes back to his real life.
And it's Joe's real life where the story actually is. He fills his life with friends - Ed Haugland being one. Ed is the saddened middle age man who owns Haugland Foods. Joe works for him and plays keyboard for him and stays with him as he slowly dies of MD. And Joe inherits the store he doesn't really want, But, it is the store where Joe finds his joy! On a slow day he decided to start odd little contests - all the groceries you can gather in two minutes for free, a free pie if you are buying eggs, a box of books if you can recite a Walt Whitman poem. The contests are often rigged to share with the less fortunate (grocery run) or to meet a newcomer-eventually to be wife (eggs) or to get others to meet.
As the grocery store becomes more successful, Joe's family grows and thrives and Kristi's star shoots across the sky as the voice of God. Her radio and then TV personea hidden by the layers of makeup and the talk that she spews. Yet, when she is really down and out - it's Joe she calls and Joe who is her friend.
I LOVED this book. Why? The fake of Kristi is so perfectly played against the reality of day to day joy of Joe's life. What we think we want way out there is not what we need close to home. Joe finds his Mount Joy right beside him as he watches his two sons and Darva's daughter who is now his daughter, as he stands close to Jenny the love of his life whose flute playing enchanted him the night he discovered his mother was an amazing teacher and his aunt was gay.
By the way, Mount Joy was named for the spot where Kristi and Joe stood and watched the most amazing northern lights in a drug induced state. Later, Kristi claimed that was the moment she first heard God speak her name. Joe remembers it as a time they stood in awe of nature and the pure happiness of friendship.
So, what is the view from your Mount Joy? Is it a place where secrets are shared and stories are told? Or is it the amazing view of a life lived well? Hmmmm.....