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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

A Quiet Life

ISBN: 9781982190972

Publisher: Scribner

Publication Date: 11/29/2022

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)

From the author of A Little Hope—a Read with Jenna Bonus Pick—comes an enormously powerful and life-affirming novel about three individuals whose lives intersect in unforeseen ways.

Set in a close-knit Pennsylvania suburb in the grip of winter, A Quiet Life follows three people grappling with loss and finding tender wisdom in their grief.

Chuck Ayers used to look forward to nothing so much as his annual trip to Hilton Head with his wife, Cat—that yearly taste of relaxation they’d become accustomed to in retirement, after a lifetime of working and raising two children. Now, just months after Cat’s death, Chuck finds that he can’t let go of her things—her favorite towel, the sketchbooks in her desk drawer—as he struggles to pack for a trip he can’t imagine taking without her.

Ella Burke delivers morning newspapers and works at a bridal shop to fill her days while she anxiously awaits news—any piece of information—about her missing daughter. Ella adjusts to life in a new apartment and answers every call on her phone, hoping her daughter will reach out one day.

After the sudden death of her father, Kirsten Bonato set aside her veterinary school aspirations, finding comfort in the steady routine of working at an animal shelter. But as time passes, old dreams and new romantic interests begin to surface—and Kirsten finds herself at another crossroads.

In this beautifully crafted and profoundly moving novel, three parallel narratives converge in poignant and unexpected ways, as each character bravely presses onward, trying to recover something they have lost. Emotionally riveting and infused with hope, A Quiet Life celebrates humanity in the midst of uncertainty.

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My Review

Master storyteller Ethan Joella returns following A Little Hope with his latest novel—A QUIET LIFE, where three unlikely characters connect in unforeseen ways in this heartwarming story of regrets, love, loss, and second chances.

Set in the winter of Bethlehem, PA, we meet three characters —Chuck, Kirsten, and Ella. Each of them has suffered a terrible loss.

Chuck Ayers is a recent widower in his 70s whose grief after the death of his wife, Cat, is overwhelming. How can he go on without her?

Every year they rent a place in Hilton Head, SC. The lease agreement stares at him, and the rental is paid in full. However, how can he go without her?

He needs to ease his guilt. He tends to obsess about an argument with his wife over a young artist named Natasha she wanted to help that worked as a waitress at the diner. He disagreed. This woman haunts him. He must find her to see how she turned out and to let her know his wife has passed.

Kirsten Bonato is a recent college graduate who dreamed of traveling around Europe and attending veterinary school. The 20-something whose father was murdered as an innocent bystander during a gas station robbery. She is wracked with grief, even going so far as to abandon her plans to apply to veterinary school, still working at an animal shelter.

Ella Burke, a young mother whose ex-husband kidnapped their daughter, 8-yr-old Riley, early from school three months ago and ultimately disappeared. She is struggling financially and emotionally. Will she ever see her daughter again?

Ella's life is falling apart. She has lost her house (and even goes to the new owners to inform them of her daughter, that may show up one day, and to call her immediately). She now works two jobs to pay her rent.

She delivers papers in the early mornings (Chuck is on her route), and sees this man sitting looking out the window. He looks lonely. She also works at a bridal store. She never gives up hope of finding her daughter.

How will these three parallel narratives converge?

Filled with stunning metaphors and symbols, such as the cardinal, "The most special birds because they kept us company in winter when the other birds leave."

A QUIET LIFE is charming and heartwarming. Readers will find friendship, community, and kindness on full display.

With beautiful storytelling and lyrical prose, an uplifting and endearing novel about friendship, grief, surprising revelations, and hope. When "family" doesn't always have to be defined in the traditional sense. Home isn't always where we expect it to be, and the love of friends is all we need.

For fans of authors Elizabeth Berg, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Elizabeth Strout, and Fredrik Backman.

Joella deftly weaves stories of roads taken and not taken, choices made and missed opportunities, and the possibilities of second chances.

Thank you to #NetGalley and #Scribner for an e-ARC to read, review, and enjoy!

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 4.5 Stars rounded to 5 🌟STARS

Pub Date: Nov 29, 2022


"Heartwarming, character-driven charm. Empathetic without becoming saccharine, A Quiet Life highlights the power of closure and the importance of a connected, compassionate community.” —Booklist

"A Quiet Life is filled with people I’d like to meet. Ethan Joella’s latest novel reminds us that life is made of journeys, not only destinations. Read this one slowly; you’ll want to savor the details."

—Charmaine Wilkerson, author of Black Cake

"A Quiet Life shines with the courage and heart of its characters. Through elegant prose, this powerful book reminds us that in grief and loss we stand united in the love, resilience, and connection that define our humanity. Readers will emerge from these intersecting stories transformed, hopeful, and inspired."

—Qian Julie Wang, author of Beautiful Country

“I adored A Quiet Life. Soft as silk, powerful as a punch, Ethan Joella doesn't shirk from the trauma of grief but delivers real hope in our capacity to survive. A beautifully written page-turner like this one is hard to find."

—Nikki May, author of Wahala

"A Quiet Life is about the transformative power of connection if we are willing to risk opening our hearts. Joella’s characters help each other shoulder the burden of grief and unearth the shards of beauty to be found in the wreckage of loss. There is magic at the intersection of these stories, a rare and addicting alchemy of ordinary moments and choices that add up to whole, brave, flawed, joyful lives. This novel insists on our essential strength, resilience, and empathy in an age of isolation."

—Katie Runde, author of The Shore

"Joella develops his characters with enormous empathy... The pleasure of discovering connections is one of the most basic joys of reading and is key to Joella's storytelling.... The soothing tone and warm worldview of this grown-up bedtime story will be good for what ails you." —Kirkus

About the Author

Ethan Joella teaches English and psychology at the University of Delaware and specializes in community writing workshops. His work has appeared in River Teeth, The Cimarron Review, The MacGuffin, Delaware Beach Life, and Third Wednesday. He is the author of A Little Hope, which was a Read with Jenna Bonus Selection and A Quiet Life. He lives in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, with his wife and two daughters



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