From a combination of explosive elements comes a searing tale that takes the reader along a pathway of wrong choices, each event leading to the next, until a domino-like effect has caught each character up into a mix of irreversible chaos.
Did it all begin when April, single mother, caught between a rock and a hard place, decides to take her three-year-old daughter to work with her, because her babysitter is ill? Or did it all begin before that, in a time when jobs were hard to find and money was short, leading April to the Puma Club for Men near Sarasota, Florida, where she dances night after night for more money than she could earn in more conventional places?
And what about the men in the club, like the Middle-Eastern man named Bassam, with wads of cash who keeps April occupied for too long until her child grows fearful and wanders around, unwatched by anyone?
Perhaps another cog in this wheel of misfortune could be A. J. Carey, a drunk, angry, and lonely man tossed out of his own home by his wife, missing companionship and his own son? He was just seeking human comfort, so why has the bouncer named Lonnie literally kicked him out of the club, landing him on his arm and probably breaking it? Is A. J. just another person seeking some kind of redemption when he makes a foolish choice?
Pain of all kinds drives each of these characters, and before the night is done, they will all be on a collision course to a disaster none of them could have seen coming.
In his inimitable style, the author creates in The Garden of Last Days: A Novel a compelling narrative and realistic characters living on the seamy side of American life, poised to crash and burn. We see the story unfold, during a week in September of 2001, from the point of view of several key characters, and we watch the unstoppable events set in motion by April, Bassam, Lonnie, and A. J., including the stunning and horrific moments that changed the landscape of American life, even as it changed the lives of these characters.
But what about Jean, the woman in whose home April lives? The woman who watches Franny most nights and whose lovely garden is a place of respite for them? Her story is woven into those of the others…and in the end, we see how she reflects on life before and after. And decides to change how she looks at life.
A memorable story that delves into the motivations of flawed individuals, giving the reader an opportunity to understand, even when the characters are unlikeable or even contemptible. A five star read.