Guest House by Barbara K. Richardson

Late that night, Melba heard a little yelp, a coyote yelp coming from behind the guest room door. Matt’s cry pierced her sleep. She tried to imagine what it felt like to be Matt. It was unsettling, as she could not. Her childhood had been safe and solid. Her father hadn’t kidnapped her. Her mother hadn’t slept around. Her eleventh Thanksgiving had not included a toast to her mother’s boyfriend’s future. The only real grief Melba could recall had occurred at age sixteen, when she’d done battle with her mother over music. The intensity of the fight had shocked everyone. It marked their first separation–the initial wedge driven into their dour family peace. (p. 97)

Family peace. Now there’s an oxymoron. Sometimes we find it, several times we don’t. But, what keeps a family together? Love. Mutual respect. Unconditional commitment.

Eleven year old Matt’s parents know nothing about these terms. They can only tell you about self seeking behavior: drinking, drugs, sexual partners beyond what one can count. All of this, while still married. It’s a nebulous term for them, one with an elastic boundary line that just as often as not doesn’t include Matt.

Melba, who on a whim bought a cottage, finds Matt. She finds him in person when his mother becomes her renter. She finds him emotionally when she connects with him, painting his room blue, taking him to Powell’s, cooking him macaroni and cheese. She finds him maternally when she will not rest until he comes home. To her.

Because as everyone should know, your mother doesn’t have to give birth to you to be your mother.

Melba looked hard into the future, as JoLee steered the Buick across the bridge toward home. Where would she find a strong principled male to stand in as Matt’s father? The city was vast. Her powers of attraction were almost nil. She knew a pudgy, smart, fiercely independent woman could only give a boy so much. Melba had solved thousands of problems and could solve a few thousand more on Matt’s behalf, but somehow, somewhere, some good man had to take Gene’s pathetic legacy and drop kick it off the field of Matt Garry’s life. All Melba could think of was authors: Hawthorne, Melville, London. Not enough. There was Dickens, but even he came up short. The pressure of parenthood trounced the classics. Which said the book Matt needed had yet to be written. The man they needed to meet had yet to be found. (p. 182)

Read what Barbara K. Richardson has to say about Discerning The Still Small Voice on Good Morning, America! Also, how she says one can turn a house of sorrow into a house of joy here.

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7 thoughts on “Guest House by Barbara K. Richardson

  1. Most true. That last statement is so meaningful. In a TV show, a mother also commented something that I believe I shall never forget. She said that a parent's obligation does not stop anywhere. No matter what he does, what he is.

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  2. I must agree. My family went through some rough times, and while I'm very close to my mom now, there were several women in my life who played the mother role to me while growing up.Looks like another book to add to the wish list.

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  3. This sounds like a moving, thought provoking book. My son had a friend who struggled with family issues and I tried to make a difference in his life. Hopefully, I made some kind of difference.

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  4. Dear M, WHat a lovely new place you've created! I have to look at the Paris in July thing…so much to do and catch up on here. LOVED the pick of your TBR stack. And now, THIS book sounds good, too. Oh my oh my – I must resist. And truth be told, the library thing isn't working out for me. I'll probably blog about it this weekend.In the meantime, happy summer and will stop by again soon as I get my "blog legs" back!Cheers, Oh

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