People Acting Like Cardinals
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In A Quiet Life, a main character, Chuck Ayers, is floundering significantly after his wife’s death. In such a chaotic time emotionally, it is true that people often act in odd ways. Even knowing this, I almost closed this book when Chuck was on the verge of adopting a pet pig from an animal shelter. I am glad I didn’t quit the book at that point. Giving it a chance, the author did a fine job of making this an early step in Chuck’s very believable downward spiral. Since this is a happy and inspiring book, Chuck ultimately bounces back. You’ll have to read the novel to see how – and to see what happens with the pig!
The book jacket tells a lot of the main plot lines, all of them having to do with people experiencing loss. We have Chuck mourning the death of his wife, Kat. We have Ella worried sick over her young daughter who has gone missing. And we have Kirsten, who mourns the death of her father, who died in a convenience store robbery.
As it turns out, all of these people are interconnected. Chuck knows Kirsten from long ago as his wife was Kirsten’s teacher. And Ella is the delivery person for Chuck’s newspaper. Additionally, Ella is a neighbor to Kirsten’s boss, David, to whom she (Kirsten) has a romantic attraction. David is also experiencing loss as he is in the process of a divorce and has only partial custody of his kids. If this isn’t enough, Kirsten works at David’s animal rescue shelter, the place Chuck finds the pig, Frederick.
Though full of interconnections and emotional loss, the book is full of something else as well – human compassion. We watch as people come together to befriend others in their time of need and we see many acts of kindness large and small.
The cover of the book shows a window looking out onto a wintery day. There is a cardinal up in the snow-covered tree. We are reminded of a quote from Chuck’s late wife, Kat: “Cardinals [are] the most special birds because they [keep] us company in the winter when the other birds leave.”
So, there you have it. In return for handling the thought of a pet pig, the reader gets the delightful experience of watching as these people become “cardinals” to each other.
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