Sally’s thoughts: This book caught my eye when I saw it on the New Book display. The contrasting backgrounds and family dynamics of Owen and Alma play out convincingly in the strange cultural divide
of our time.
In the run-up to the 2016 election, Owen Callahan, an aspiring writer, moves back to Kentucky to live with his Trump-supporting uncle and grandfather. Eager to clean up his act after wasting time and potential in his early twenties, he takes a job as a groundskeeper at a small local college, in exchange for which he is permitted to take a writing course.
Here he meets Alma Hazdic, a writer in residence who seems to have everything that Owen lacks–a prestigious position, an Ivy League education, success as a writer. They begin a secret relationship, and as they grow closer, Alma–who comes from a liberal family of Bosnian immigrants–struggles to understand Owen’s fraught relationship with family and home.
Exquisitely written; expertly crafted; dazzling in its precision, restraint, and depth of feeling, Groundskeeping is a novel of haunting power and grace from a prodigiously gifted young writer.