The Goodbye Quilt, the latest women's fiction (in other words, not a romance in sight) offering from Susan Wiggs. This book wasn't written for me. Not by a long shot. It was written as a bit of a love letter to all those Moms out there who get hit hard by Empty Nest Syndrome.
Linda Davis is getting reading to drive her only child, daughter Molly, across the country to attend a prestigious university. Husband Dan isn't going. Instead it will be Linda and Molly, on one last road trip. Molly fretting about the boyfriend she's leaving behind in their tiny Wyoming town and the uncharted waters that await her. Linda fretting about getting the memory quilt she's making for Molly done in time, and also about what she's going to do with her life now that her only child is leaving the nest.
This slim category-length story is the kind of gift hard cover book you give to your female friends, with children, who are of a certain age. If you're the type of mother (or you know one) who struggled with letting go; who floundered a bit on the question, "What now?" after the kids leave home - this book is very likely going to speak to you. Wiggs is a very capable writer, and there were moments of truth that shined through this story that will very likely resonant with the audience she's targeting.
That being said, readers shouldn't go into this tale expecting a big, meaty, angst-filled read. That's not really what this is. It's more a sweet story about moving on, letting go, and allowing your children to sink or swim on their own.
I will say that I struggled for the majority of this book to wrap my mind around Linda. No, I'm not a mother. So maybe I just don't "get" it - but more than once I wanted to reach through the pages, smack her upside the head and tell her, "Get a life!" Her entire existence seems so wrapped up in being "Molly's Mom." Almost like she abandoned being an individual person once she gave birth. I "get" that this happens to some women, but it's just so.....annoying to read about it. Luckily for me (and readers), Linda eventually seems to "get" it. Also, the inclusion of her husband, Dan, helped tremendously. He's largely off the page, not taking this road trip with mother and daughter, but when Linda talks to him on the phone? He says all the things that I'm thinking in my head. This ultimately seems to help Linda move forward.
The Goodbye Quilt won't be a book that will resonant with every female reader out there, but for many mothers and maybe even some daughters? I think it will. Again, it's a slim story, so readers shouldn't expect a dissertation of character development and back-story, but Wiggs hits on enough truths that in my mind's eye I see a lot of turned down page corners, and affixing of Post-It Notes to certain passages, for readers to go back to rediscover those moments again and again. If you're in the target demographic? I recommend buying an extra box of Kleenex. You're likely going to need it.
Final Grade = B-