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The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
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The Life We Bury (2014)

by Allen Eskens

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8897714,416 (3.73)61
  1. 00
    The Winter in Anna by Reed Karaim (tangledthread)
    tangledthread: similar story line: young journalism major takes on an outsized task. Upper midwest setting. Sympathetic characters with heavy doses of dysfunction.
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Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
College student Joe Taulbert is assigned to write a biography of someone he doesn't know. He goes to a nursing home where he ends up writing the story of Carl Iverson. Iverson is a convicted murderer who was released to the nursing home because he's dying of cancer. Joe suspects Iverson was wrongly convicted and, with the help of his neighbor throws himself into discovering the truth. ( )
  Mrs.DuBois | Aug 4, 2018 |
Predictable but still an entertaining read. Well written. ( )
  melanieklo | Jul 25, 2018 |
The novel is both interesting and edifying. It is a fast reading mystery laced with a young man's search for meaning in life. Joe must reconcile his mother's alcoholism and his own guilt about leaving his younger, autistic brother with his mother so he can go to college. For a college assignment, he interviews a a Vietnam vet who was convicted of murder 30 years ago. Gripping as a mystery, the book addresses good vs evil in the world, the psychological effects of war, and coming of age in a dysfunctional family. It wraps up with a satisfying, uncontrived conclusion and end with a powerful statement in support of the Christian tenet to love others and make the world a better place. ( )
  UnionCongUCC | Jul 21, 2018 |
I really enjoyed this one. I listened to it as an audiobook and even the reader was great! From the start I was drawn in with the story of Joe Talbert who needs to write a biography on Carl Iverson, a convicted murderer. I felt a real connection with the characters, especially Joe, Carl, and Lila. It was long enough to really get into the story without it having unnecessary details bore you. It was a good mystery novel which kept me on my toes with the twists and turns. ( )
1 vote mindyvail | Jul 3, 2018 |
College student interviews a dying convict, takes care of his Autistic brother, struggles with his alcoholic mother. The characters are developed extremely well. That makes it in congruent when the plot moves into unimaginative car chases and shoot outs. ( )
  margaretfield | Jun 20, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
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Dedication
I dedicate this novel to my wife, Joely, my most trusted advisor and best friend. I also dedicate this novel to my daughter, Mikayla, for her constant inspiration and to my parents, Pat and Bill Eskens, for their many lessons in life.
First words
I remember being pestered by a sense of dread as I walked to my car that day, pressed down by a wave of foreboding that swirled around my head and broke against the evening in small ripples. There are people in this world who would call that kind of feeling a premonition, a warning from some internal third eye that can see around the curve of time.
Quotations
Oddly enough, my high-school guidance counselor never mentioned the word “college” in any of our meetings. Maybe she could smell the funk of hopelessness that clung to my second-hand clothing. Maybe she had heard that I started working at a dive bar called the Piedmont Club the day after I turned eighteen. Or – and this is where I’d place my bet – maybe she knew who my mother was and figured that no one can change the sound of an echo.
That all changed the day my Grandpa Bill died. A feral restlessness descended upon our little trio that day, as though his death severed the one tether that gave my mother stability. After his death she let go of what little restraint she possessed and simply floated on the wave of her moods. She cried more, yelled more, and lashed out whenever the world overwhelmed her. She seemed determined to find the darker edges of her life and embrace them as some kind of new normal.
I needed to feed my delusion that I was not my brother’s keeper, that such a duty fell to our mother. I needed a place where I could store Jeremy’s life, his car, a box that I could shut tight and tell myself it was where Jeremy belonged – even if I knew, deep down, that it was all a lie. I needed that thin plausibility to ease my conscience.
Carl chuckled. "Well, there's that," he said. "But it also means that this is our heaven. We are surrounded every day by the wonders of life, wonders beyond comprehension that we simply take for granted. I decided that day that I would live my life -not simply exist. If I died and discovered heaven on the other side, well, that'd be just fine and dandy. But if I didn't live my life as if I was already in heaven, and I died and found only nothingness, well...I would have wasted my life. I would of have wasted my one chance in all of history to be alive."
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Book description
College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, a dying Vietnam veteran - and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, Carl has been medically paroled to a nursing home after spending thirty years in prison for the crime of rape and murder.

As Joe writes about Carl's life, especially Carl's valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. With the help of Lila, his skeptical neighbor, Joe throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory.

Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl's conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it's too late to escape the fallout?
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"College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same. Iverson is a dying Vietnam veteran--and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder. As Joe writes about Carl's life, especially Carl's valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory. Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl's conviction. But by the time Joe discovers the truth, it is too late to escape the fallout"--… (more)

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