One of those very few good books that have been made into a good film.

an unfinished life

I saw the film and raved about it and everyone told me to read the book. I have now done so and I’m happy to report that this is one of those very few good books that have been made into a good film.

Jean Gilkyson escapes her abusive boyfriend and with her daughter Griff heads back to the one place in the world she’d rather not be–her father-in-law’s ranch in Wyoming. Father-in-law Einar is an embittered, recovering drunk whose only redeeming quality is his friendship for his cowboy cohort, Mitch Bradley, who is missing a kidney from a bear mauling a couple of years before. There’s an attractive sheriff, a wise diner owner, and a lot of neighbors who rally round when they’re needed, but mostly there is some very nice writing, especially Griff’s voice, as in

She opens her hands flat and presses down against her chest. No titties, she thinks. She’s still safe. She thinks that one morning she’ll wake up with breasts, maybe the start of hair between her legs, and everything will begin to go wrong. Just like things have gone wrong for her mother. Breasts attract trailer houses and pickup trucks and lots and lots of tears. She wishes her father were still alive. If he weren’t dead it would be safe to let her titties grow.

The Big Bad Boyfriend is a little too broadly drawn–we’ve all met him far too many times before– but still a book very much worth reading. “I’m careful about what I throw away,” Einar tells Griff. No, he isn’t, or he wasn’t, but now he’s got a second chance to take hold and hang on.

Second book in what appears to be a sort of trilogy. I’ll read the first one but I’m not sure I want to know what happens after.