WHEREVER GRACE IS NEEDED

Elizabeth Bass

When Grace Oliver leaves Portland for Austin, Texas, to help her father, Lou, recuperate from a car accident, she expects to stay just a few weeks. Since her mother’s divorce thirty years ago, Grace has hovered on the periphery of the Oliver family. But now she sees a chance to get closer to her half-brothers and the home she’s never forgotten.

But the Olivers are facing a crisis. Tests reveal that Lou, a retired college professor whose sharp tongue and tenderness Grace adores, is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Grace delays her departure to care for him,

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When Grace Oliver leaves Portland for Austin, Texas, to help her father, Lou, recuperate from a car accident, she expects to stay just a few weeks. Since her mother’s divorce thirty years ago, Grace has hovered on the periphery of the Oliver family. But now she sees a chance to get closer to her half-brothers and the home she’s never forgotten.

But the Olivers are facing a crisis. Tests reveal that Lou, a retired college professor whose sharp tongue and tenderness Grace adores, is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Grace delays her departure to care for him, and is soon entwined in the complicated lives of her siblings-all squabbling over Lou’s future-and of the family next door…
Ray West and his three children are reeling from a recent tragedy, particularly sixteen-year-old Jordan, whose grief is heightened by guilt and anger. Amid the turmoil, Grace not only gives solace and support, but learns to receive it. And though she came to Austin to reconnect with her past, she is drawn by degrees into surprising new connections

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  • Kensington Books
  • Paperback
  • May 2011
  • 352 Pages
  • 9780758265944

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About Elizabeth Bass

Elizabeth Bass grew up the youngest of four siblings in rural Texas, where she spent summers watching old movies and dreaming of living in a town big enough to have an Icee machine. She now resides in Montreal with her husband.

Praise

“This is an emotion-packed story of two young women, each dealing with the loss of loved ones, and needing to accept the changes this brings to their lives. It shows how guilt and grief can destroy some relationships, while strengthening and even creating others.”—RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

Discussion Questions

At the beginning of the story, Grace seems to have arrived at a place in her life where she is happy. She has a business she loves and has just moved in with her long-term boyfriend. Yet she picks up and moves halfway across the country to take care of her ailing father. Was staying in Austin with Lou the right decision? In her shoes, what would you have done differently?

How did being a child of divorce affect Grace? Do you think her feelings of wanting to belong to the part of the family she had been pulled away from at the age of seven informed her decision to move home with her father when he became ill?

It is said of Jordan that she makes it difficult for people to love her, and the way she handles situations often makes her seem like her own worst enemy. Which was your strongest feeling toward her—sympathy, or exasperation? Have you ever had someone like Jordan in your life?

Dominic, Lily and Jordan seek out the companionship of others to help them through a difficult year. Did you consider their father, Ray, a negligent parent at times?

Lily is a compulsive journal keeper. Have you ever kept a journal or diary? If so, have you ever worried it would wind up in the wrong hands?

When Ray and Grace have their argument after the failed party and he accuses her of meddling in his family and keeping secrets from him, is he being unreasonable? Should Grace have reported what Jordan was up to back to him, or was she correct to keep Jordan’s confidence?

Both Jordan and Lily spend a summer with their maternal grandparents but each views the experience differently. How does living with Granny Kate and Pop Pop change them? Do you think Lily would have come to understand Jordan if she hadn’t had her own experience in Little Salty?

Grace often reaches out to try to help those around her, but her efforts meet with varying degrees of success. How do you think the lives of other characters in the book would have turned out differently if Grace had not moved to Austin? And what of her own life—could she and Ben have lived happily ever after?

Lou’s illness is central to the story. In your own life, have you known someone who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease? 10. Grace worries she’s finally found her “hopelessly devoted” man of her dreams in Ray…but that he’s hopelessly devoted to someone else. Her father, speaking from experience, warns her that a man doesn’t get over a tragedy like Ray’s. By the end of the book, do you think Ray is ready to embark on another relationship? How do you see this family functioning in five years?