Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Literally the Best Reviews: The Big Finish

 The Big Finish - Brooke Fossey

Berkeley Publishing

336 Pages

After having to live through the pandemic and being restricted on where we could and could not go, The Big Finish by Brooke Fossey was the appropriate book to read. Not only was it a fun book to read and helped pass some time, it was about getting away from other people’s expectations. This escapist novel made an appearance on my book list at the perfect time.

Duffy Sinclair is an elderly man who isn’t quite old enough to be cooped up in a nursing home, but isn’t quite young enough to live on his own. Instead, he lives with his roommate, Carl Upton, in an assisted living facility. His daily life seems mundane and fully scheduled as he wiles away his days. And that’s just the way he likes it. And then a mysterious young woman crawls through his window and his world is turned upside down.

Josie is Carl’s estranged granddaughter and has demons she’s trying to exorcise. Reeking of booze and sporting a black eye, she’s looking for sanctuary. Duffy, a devout rule follower, is aghast and immediately wants to get her out of his room and out of his life. Carl begrudgingly admits his relationship to the girl and wants to help. Duffy still wants to play by the rules before the overbearing director of the facility decides that it's time to be shipped off to a nursing home. Before long, however, Duffy is leading a life of subterfuge, illicit escapes and temptation.

Duffy takes Josie under his wing, although neither will admit it. Josie does everything she can to make him miserable, and he does everything he can to not want to care. He was comfortable in his life, relaxing in his twilight years. Instead, he discovers that life is what you make it, and it’s never too late to learn a new trick or two,

Brooke Fossey has written a novel that explores the idea of getting old. There are two perceptions. The outside perception is that old people don’t really do anything other than patiently wait for whatever is next. Self perception is a mixed bag. You still think that you can do things, but your body reminds you otherwise. There is a fine balance between doing what is expected, and reminding people that you were young once, too, with the same thoughts, plans and aspirations. 

The characters in this book are full of life and engaging. Duffy’s character goes through a metamorphosis as he starts to relive some of his former life, memories dredged up by the miscues and adventures of a millennial woman. The desire and will to take action is tempered by his ability, which results in hilarious half steps taken by Duffy. 

One side of aging that Fossey captures here is the perception by younger people that older people need to be taken care of like children. Knowing when to acquiesce and when to buck the system are battles that Duffy weighs carefully before taking action. It is not slow, inaction that we see. It is mature contemplation. Which, of course, leads to not so mature outcomes lost in the struggle.

This book was so much fun to read. It reminded me of my grandmother, who up until her 90s, still felt like she could do anything. She lived on her own, until she could n longer care for herself without help. Unfortunately at that time, there was no assisted living care for her and she had to be admitted into a nursing home. At that point, the life seemed to ebb out of her. Fossey captures that precipice quite adroitly. As Duffy teetered at the edge, he had to fight to stay true to himself. 

In the end, The Big Finish by Brooke Fossey was an engaging, fun read that explored the humorous and often overlooked side of growing old -- your mind fighting with your body for control. The human spirit ultimately prevails. Definitely take the time to read this book. It will have you looking at your elders in a whole new light.

Craig Bacon is not old. He still thinks like a 20-something, although his body has been reminding him he’s a late-forty-something lately. And where did this gray come from? He blames the kids.