The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Action/Adventure
Length: Full length (306 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

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.

Carl 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 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?

Joe Talbert is not just any average Joe. The Life We Bury is a excellent read. Joe may not have came from the best upbringing and he may not have the biggest male frame but he is mighty.

This was our April book club choice and this went down as a book that all members gave the highest rating.

From the first page until the last word this book is one that is sure to hold any reader’s attention. Some times we can’t question why people come into our life, the reason is sure to reveal itself later on. Joe came into Carl Iveron’s life not only at the right time but for a very important reason. With a mother that barely can carry the title as mom proudly, and an autistic brother Joe hasn’t had it easy. When he goes away to college to try to make something productive of himself he gets an assignment to write a paper and ends up meeting the girl that he’s found interest in around campus along with reclaiming a loss that left him feeling un-whole.

This is a book that I highly recommend. The writing style is one that is so poetic in description, the characters are so well developed that I feel that they could be the people next door. The plot is one that is original and built around suspense. You think you’ve narrowed down who the bad guy is, or you think the plot is straight forward but then the authors throws in something you didn’t see coming. I liked having the investigation into the mystery being conducted by a non-professional. It added flare and gave the book a different momentum than the normal investigative cop scenario. This book has it all suspense, life issues, the start of young romance, action. This will be a book that stays with me long after I’ve read it and one that I will suggest to other book readers.

Joe is a strong character. In the beginning I don’t think he even knew his own strength. He has a caring heart and a will to protect those that need it. Carl was in prison for rape and murder and now is dying of pancreatic cancer. Carl seems to have given up on living and given up on proclaiming his innocence. Jeremy is Joe’s autistic brother and boy is he a light of hope, humor and a reason for Joe to fight to be stable and strong to continue being his brother’s keeper. After finishing the book I pondered the thought is this a character driven book or is it plot driven? I still haven’t come to a conclusion.

This would be a good movie. The book plays out so well that I feel like I’ve already saw the events in my mind. The book deals with a lot of life issues and perhaps that’s what gives this book a more to life real feel. It could be that in addition to the awesome talent that the author has in delivering such powerful creative work.

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