You know that feeling when you read a book and finish it feeling whole, inspired and energized? That is exactly how I felt after I finished A Quiet Life by Ethan Joella. Which, I know is strange to say about a book about grief, but trust me on this, this is a beautiful book. You'll never look at a cardinal the same way again.
Set in a close-knit suburb in the grip of winter, A Quiet Life follows three people grappling with loss and finding a tender wisdom in their grief. Chuck is struggling after losing his wife of many years, Ella barely makes it through each day while holding a flicker of hope that her missing daughter will soon be in her arms, and Kirsten longs to hear her dad's voice again. All three are in the midst of their grief, but their stories converge in poignant and unexpected ways.
A Quiet Life is the perfect combination of an endearing character driven novel, coupled with a captivating plotline. Books like this are truly gifts, especially when they leave you feeling appreciative for the life you have. Each character found a special place in my heart and I loved reading their parallel lives and watching them slowly come together was the cherry on top.
Grief is a complex emotion and I thought Joella encapsulated it perfectly with Chuck, Ella and Kirsten. Each has lost someone incredibly significant to them, in very different ways. They are each walking the path of grief, looking for signs of how to continue living their lives without their loved one by their side. My heart ached for Chuck, a widower who used to go south with his wife and is now grappling with his newfound loneliness, as well as regrets. I could barely read Ella's story without getting emotional. As a mother, I know I would react the same way if my child were missing; stay busy, never stop moving and never stop looking, even if it cost me everything. And sweet, sweet Kirsten feels as though she has lost her life path when her father is tragically taken from her. I connected with each character in very different ways and rooted for them until the last page.
I absolutely adored this book. (The topics are heavy, so be aware of content warnings in case some of it could be triggering.)
*This photo was snapped out my front window after an April 1st blizzard.
"Be someone's cardinal."
“Maybe that is love. Maybe loving someone so deeply means accepting the fact that they occupy a specific, clear place in you. You accept that there will be a hole if you lose them- the same way a painting or a photograph will leave its shadows on the wall after it's gone, the way a tree will leave a crater where the roots and stump were."