I didn't mean to read The Call the day that it came in the mail from Harper Perennial. Really, I didn't. I had other plans. I had another book started already, and I am monogamous with my books. I don't *do* two at a time. I made a mistake, though. I opened it up, as I am wont to do, and read the first few sentences...and found myself reading the first few pages...and then the whole book.
It was all wholly unexpected. I was sick and grumpy and on the cusp of a massive funk, reading and otherwise, and thoroughly credit The Call with rescuing me from my funk. I finished it and immediately began recommending it to my friends. I am fully prepared to gush shamelessly about its awesomeness but am failing to see a way to do so that's coherent...at all. Maybe someday I'll write a real, decent review with skillful writing, penetrating thoughtfulness, and maybe the tiniest bit of objectivity. Today, though, I'm opting for the gushy post, signified by me writing in the second person to tell you how you should/will feel about The Call. Consider yourself warned.
So, there's this vet in rural New England and he keeps a journal of his daily calls to farms to treat various large animals, but soon it gets more detailed, including not only his calls but the details of his daily family life, his musings as he drives from place to place, his fascination with what he is sure is a spacecraft looming over his house with blinking lights. When tragedy strikes, his journal becomes even more detailed covering hopeless days at the hospital, asking for answers from the mysterious spacecraft, all while carrying on with motions of daily life.
Okay, it doesn't sound exciting. In fact it sounds a little strange when you try to summarize it, which is one of the obstacles I'm facing when recommending it. But let me assure you, it is great. It is fascinating. It is heartwarming. You will hear your own internal musings in David the vet's mental wanderings. You will wholly believe that there is a spacecraft hovering over his house, and when a mysterious stranger shows up and he starts seriously referring to him as the "spaceman," you will totally buy it. You will laugh at the antics of his wife, son and two daughters and the assorted creatures he treats as well as the ones who live in his house, but more than that you will fall in love with the way he talks about them. In short, you will fall in love with the unusual way Murphy has chosen to tell her story because, with the characters she's created, everything about it just works.
Murphy's story is heartbreaking and heartwarming. In 200 or so short pages, she creates a family that you wish lived next door, that you won't be able to get enough of. You will be sad when it's over. You will certainly laugh, you might very well cry. You will be blown away by the story's simple wisdom, its respect for the joys of a simple life with a family you love, and its lighthearted, honest dealing with life's really hard stuff.
The Call is the oddest sort of book. It's a quiet, understated story, not so very earth shattering at all, but every little bit of it leaps off the page. Finishing this book made me feel good about life and love and families and everything and like even when things get hard, good can still win (or at least not lose), and we can all make it to the other side if we can just remember to laugh at life once in a while, stick together, and do the right thing when the opportunity comes along.
The Call is, for certain, one of the best books I've read this year and one that you just have to read to believe. Look for it at your bookstore or library. It's got a bright orange cover. You can't miss it, and, really, you shouldn't.
If my gushing doesn't convince you, here are a couple more articulate views...
Beth Fish Reads
A Musing Reviews
(Thanks to Erica at Harper Perennial for sending me a copy for review!)