Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

This novel tells the story of 82-year old Etta, who has never seen the ocean, as she sets off on a walking quest across Canada. She leaves a note for her husband, Otto, who understands her need to make this journey before it's too late. Their best friend, Russell, doesn't understand as well as Otto does, and sets off to find her, but really sets off to find himself. On her journey, Etta makes an unlikely friend in James, a coyote who joins her on her walk.

The story follows each of these characters during the time that Etta is away and alternates between the past and present, telling how these people ended up together. Etta seems to be falling into the grips of dementia, telling Otto that she "will try to remember to come back." She carries a note with her to remind herself who she is and who she left behind. Otto, the one left behind, goes on as best as he can, eventually discovering a way to find the companionship he is missing. Russell, for the first time in his life, does something irresponsible as he sets off on his own journey. And James provides the companionship and comfort that Etta needs as she travels.

This is a story about family, friendship, love, losing (and finding) oneself. It is beautifully written and a touching account of the dreams and hopes of the young, which are strong even toward the end of life. I highly recommend it.

Please note: As adult fiction, there is some adult language in this novel, but not much. There is also a bit of sexual content.

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