Jean Thompson is a novelist and short story writer. Her works include the novels A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl, She Poured Out Her Heart, The Humanity Project, The Year We Left Home, City Boy, Wide Blue Yonder, The Woman Driver, and My Wisdom and the short story collections The Witch and Other Tales Re-Told, Do Not Deny Me, Throw Like a Girl, Who Do You Love (a National Book Award finalist), Little Face and Other Stories, and The Gasoline Wars. Thompson’s short fiction has been published in many magazines and journals, including the New Yorker, and anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize. Thompson has been the recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, among other accolades, and has taught creative writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Reed College, Northwestern University, and other colleges and universities. She lives in Urbana, Illinois.
Malachi “Mal” July has run into trouble in the past. With a reputation as a player, he’s now a recovering alcoholic and has made progress in redeeming himself in the eyes of his family and the citizens of Henry Adams, Kansas. He’s not only turned his diner into a profitable business, but also mentors the town’s foster kids. And he’s even staying true to one woman—Bernadine Brown.
But all it takes is a moment of pride to blind Mal to his blessings—a moment that makes him betray his friends and family, and lose Bernadine’s trust and love. Will he ever be able to win her forgiveness?
Meanwhile Homecoming Weekend is fast approaching, and store owner Gary Clark is reunited with his high school sweetheart. All it takes is a few minutes for them to realize the spark is still there, but is it too late for second chances?
A little help from the good people of Henry Adams may give both Mal and Gary the best second chance at the happiness they missed the first time around…
Germany, 1939. Two children watch as their parents become immersed in the puzzling mechanisms of power. Sieglinde lives in the affluent ignorance of middle-class Berlin, her father a censor who excises prohibited words ("promise", "love", "mercy") from books. Erich is an only child living a lush rural life near Leipzig, tending beehives, aware that he is shadowed by strange, unanswered questions.
Drawn together as Germany's hope for a glorious future begins to collapse, the children find temporary refuge in an abandoned theater amid the rubble of Berlin. Outside, white bedsheets hang from windows; all over the city people are talking of surrender. The days Sieglinde and Erich spend together will shape the rest of their lives.
Watching over them is the wish child, the enigmatic narrator of their story. He sees what they see, he feels what they feel, yet his is a voice that comes from deep inside the ruins of a nation's dream.