Nuthatch, a tiny town in Massachusetts, is slowly fading away. Day by day, the population dwindles as people move away to find new opportunities and a better life. When the population is down to a scant 63, Everett, a lifetime resident, decides on a quirky plan to draw tourism. Soon, the town residents are dressing like it's 1904, and their mannerisms and choices begin to reflect that era. Tourism does increase, and the town begins to draw the attention of the media. The next thing Everett knows, a huge amusement park company has plans to purchase the entire town and create jobs and opportunity for its residents in the Nuthatch 1904 theme. Now Everett, who has never known- or wanted- any other life, must decide if his future lies in Nuthatch or somewhere else.
In "Meet Me In Nuthatch," Jacqueline T. Lynch has created small-town characters who ring true. The various connections between these characters help to show the years of history they have together. There is Roy, the town drug dealer, who has terrorized this tiny town and several of its residents personally. Everett, who isn't quite happy in his life, and is haunted by poor choices he made that put his best friend, Bud, a member of the only Black family in town, at risk. Miss Finchley, the unofficial town historian, has a lot invested in her town her choices may surprise people. The author has woven these complex relationships into a story that leads right back to Everett. At times, these relationships threaten to take over the book. I really enjoyed following the thread of the biggest themes, but I think they compete too heavily at times with the main theme of the story. This story is about Everett and his relationship with his town, but sometimes it seemed that his relationships with Roy or Miss Finchley overpowered what I saw as the true theme. His relationships with Norm and Bud seemed more secondary and blended well with the overall story.
This story kept my interest. It was a pleasant read, with interesting characters and a unique premise. Although the writing is simplistic, there are some delightful phrasings intermixed with the prose. For example: "The capital letters stood escorting their lower case versions, ghosts of
primary school" was used to describe the faded alphabet letters on the former primary classroom wall. There were some jumps in time without much in the way of explanation that left me a little confused, turning back to see where I had missed a week or more. I think it was somewhat fitting in the style of the story, but still confusing.
Altogether, this book is not an exciting read, but it's a comforting, pleasant read that stays with you even after the last page is turned. After finishing the book, I found myself still musing about the relationships and how they'd changed and progressed. This book was a nice, hot chocolate sort of read.
4 /5 stars
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