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Errands by Judith Guest


by Judith Guest

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Somewhere along the highway, just past the small farming community of Au Gres, Michigan, the Browner family is on their way to take a vacation. This has been their routine for the past six years, and they know it like the back seat of their family's old station wagon. Just north of Bay City, Michigan, taking the highway past Au Gres, leads to a stunning view of Lake Huron.

Keith, Annie, and their three children have rented the same cottage here every summer for the past six years. However, a shadow has fallen over this particular trip; Keith has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. While this is a diagnosis that Keith has accepted as his fate, Annie steadfastly refuses to accept what is an inevitable conclusion. She honestly cannot accept that their lives together are coming to such an abrupt end; she absolutely will not accept such a fate.

Annie's once stable, secure and blissfully happy marriage to Keith soon comes to an end after seventeen years together. After his death, Annie finds her entire world turned completely upside down. Her three children have inexplicably become sources of nagging frustration for her. Consumed with her grief, struggling against mounting bills, and facing an onslaught of once-simple everyday tasks that now seem insurmountable, Annie fails to comprehend that her family is actually beginning to come apart.

Annie's sister, Jess, does her best to comfort her, yet she has also begun to realize that the boundaries of their own close relationship are being stretched to their limits. Annie's three children are also dealing with their father's loss in their own ways; whether for good or ill. Thirteen-year-old Harry, the eldest of the Browner children, has slipped into a strange new attitude, brooding and angry, roaming the streets with a rebellious new friend. Julie, the youngest child at nine, starts to lie about her whereabouts, although she keeps a secret journal that reveals her true feelings.

Jimmy, forever sandwiched in the middle at eleven-years-old, has always been the peacemaker of the family. It is a role that he can no longer stand for himself, as the pressure of such a placement is becoming so much more overwhelming for the child. As each child moves toward his or her own level of acceptance, a second threatening life event will transform the children as well as Annie herself - teaching them all that, even with the devastating loss of Keith, they are still a family - albeit a different family, yet one which is no less loving, real, and enduring than they had been with him as their husband and father.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. In my opinion, it is a touching and poignant story that really drew me into its flow and pace. This was such a well-developed plot, peopled with a variety of intriguing characters and an excellent storyline. I give this book a definite A+! ( )
  moonshineandrosefire | Feb 9, 2012 |
Perhaps the most useful part of this are 8 sympathy letters pp. 81-83

Amazon reviews compare this to Ordinary People, this book also has the same death and grief and family themes, but reviews are favorable

http://www.amazon.com/review/product/0345409043/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?%5Fenco... ( )
  carterchristian1 | Dec 26, 2008 |
A novel every bit the equal of "Ordinary People', the author's first novel. This is the story of a family's efforts to deal with the husband's death from a brain tumor. Part One allows the reader to know the husband and family in his final months, and thus makes the wrenching trauma of Part Two, after his death, that much more forceful. ( )
1 vote burnit99 | Jan 25, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345409043, Hardcover)

Judith Guest is an elegant writer capable of highlighting a moment and crystallizing a thought, effortlessly creating a powerful emotional story. Her modest yet moving style gained great exposure with the success of Ordinary People, her account of divorce amid family tragedy. Errands returns to themes of grief and the trials of family life. When Keith Browner succumbs to cancer, his wife Annie faces the challenges of supporting their teenage children while dealing with her own grief and loneliness. The qualities of Guest's style complement this story, which eschews sensationalism in order to describe authentic feelings and believable characters.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:45 -0400)

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The effect of a father's death on a young family. The victim is Keith Browner, 38, a Detroit school teacher who dies of cancer, leaving behind a wife and three children. The novel describes the individual reactions--rational and irrational.

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