The Grace of the Gingko
By Michael R. Hardesty
Old Stone Press
Review by Andrea Kimmel
Entire contents copyright © 2016 Andrea Kimmel. All rights reserved.
Michael R. Hardesty is a Louisville writer who has published two children’s books, and now local publisher Old Stone Press has published his first novel, The Grace of the Gingko. It is a wonderful, moving, and realistic (for the most part) story of a grandfather and his love for his granddaughter. It is a lovely read, and should anyone be on the lookout for a good novel, you’ve found one here.
That being said, not all art is perfect. This book has definite pacing issues. There are some missed opportunities to really expand the characters and setting because the writer chose to stick to a tight schedule throughout the middle of the book. Sometimes, it is almost like reading a desk calendar – this happens, time goes on, and then this happens… you get the point. Okay, now that the sole negative remark is out of the way, let us proceed to the good aspects, of which there are many.
Hardesty’s writing is honest and clear. There are many emotional events that happen throughout the course of the book, and the honesty of the writing is what makes them moving. Hardesty does not wallow in those moments, does not try to force the feeling on the reader; instead, he lets the clarity of his writing bring these emotions forth quite effectively. The book was downright fun to read, the poignant moments balanced with witty banter and embarrassingly candid scenes that make it difficult to suppress a chuckle. Hardesty has a way with metaphor, subtle and delightful, that makes the poignant moments really sing.
The main character’s name is David Foley. His son and daughter in law both die untimely deaths, and the guardianship of his newborn granddaughter, Liesl, falls to David. The true main character of the story is David’s love for Liesl, which is a palpable, driving force even before she is born. The rest of the story is their life together. David is no stranger to raising a child alone – he raised his own son, Liesl’s father, without any help from his ex-wife, but it is not difficult to discern that raising Liesl is more emotionally charged for him. His love of the girl’s mother and his own son, and his grief at their passing, magnifies his attachment to the last remaining remnant of them, his granddaughter. Participating in their life journey was a pleasure.
Andrea Kimmel is a Louisville Native and New Albany resident who earned her BA in English from IUS. She is currently a technical writer for General Electric in Louisville.