By turns thoughtful and hilarious (even, inexplicably, both at the same time), this deeply Midwestern book quietly unfolds a vision for how to navigate in a world where we can’t always resolve things.
It begins with an old man’s call to the insurance company to get a minor house repair covered. Once the adjuster shows up, a journey both tender and tough is set in motion. These men need each other in ways it will take time to discover.
To complicate matters, the adjuster also needs (and is needed by) his aged landlady Pearl Jenkins. Theirs is a friendship both fraught and kind.
When the latest “outsider” from Minneapolis shows up to this small Dakotan town, with her non-approved hybrid car parked right across from Pearl’s house, the cast of characters is almost complete.
Just add the generous appearance of colorful minor characters the adjuster works with and serves in his work (none of whom, arguably, are truly minor) and you’re holding a delightfully satisfying book that, while it has you laughing, manages to delve into the ways we bring people in and shut them out—on the job, in the town, or at the threshold of our hearts.
As much as the characters have a relationship with poetry and story (and they do), it is also a profound book about naming both the things that have held us back and the things we want, to move us forward—about choosing life. While it plays at the level of a few characters’ personal journeys, it is ultimately a novel for our time.
Keats, Mr. Phillips? Am I to believe you were on my roof reading John Keats?”
—Pearl Jenkins, landlady in Adjustments
There in the moonlit silence, Will found himself wanting. Lacking, yes. He always found himself lacking. But tonight he also found himself wanting something he couldn’t quite put his finger on. A wishing he felt in his chest and as the silence grew more quiet, the wanting grew more noisy.”
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