The Bookworm Sez: Let’s make a deal

The Bookworm Sez: Let’s make a deal

A banana for a cupcake was always a good trade.

When you were in grade school, Mom was great about packing lunch with foods you liked but every now and then, it was good to eat something different. So you swapped, just as you did with toys and games and love, as you grew older. But, as in “The Deal of a Lifetime” by Fredrik Backman (c.2017, Atria, $18, 65 pages), what would you trade for a life?

The letter started off innocent enough: “Hi,” it said. “It’s your dad.”

But, of course, the young man would’ve suspected that. He’d always had a father.

Just not one that he knew.

Years before, when the young man was a boy, his father was gone a lot, chasing fame, money, and recognition, never being the dad he might’ve been. There was a time when he knew the boy loved him, but after he’d come home from a trip and it took two days to notice that his wife had left him and taken the boy, the father knew things would never be like before.

And now he was dying.

He’d been told it was cancer, and that his time in the hospital would be his last. Smoking on the balcony (oh, how the nurses hated that!), he noticed a small girl, and she waved at him; never one for children, he waved back anyway, and told her that he’d watch over her one night. Just five years old, she included him in her prayers. She said that she, too, saw the lady in the grey sweater.

He feared the lady in the grey sweater; everyone did. He knew who she was because he’d seen her before, at birth, at age five, at age fifteen, at perilous times of his life. Now she walked the cancer ward with a clipboard, silently and efficiently, and when he stole that clipboard and ran from the hospital in anger and fear, raced off in his sports car, and promptly had an accident, it was she who pulled him from the wreckage.

It was she who made him an offer …

Like many people, you’re already dipping your toes into the holiday season, making lists, pulling decorations from the attic. What kind of gifts will you give this year — or will you, like “The Deal of a Lifetime” — give of yourself?

It’s an age-old question, and author Fredrik Backman asks in a brief, but most exquisite manner. Indeed, at just sixty-five pages with illustrations, this book is short but every word counts and that’ll hit you square in the heart. Backman’s lady in grey is worthy of sympathy; his father-character is regretful and cynical, wearing his loss like a badge he never wanted, but he’s not as savvy as he thinks he is. When that becomes apparent to both reader and character, beware.

You may shed tears over this book. You may need to savor it a second time, to feel its words again. However you read it, “The Deal of a Lifetime” is an experience you’ll never trade.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

More in News

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. A kiosk that will offer educational programming and interpretive products about the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is coming to the airport. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsua Clarion)
Wildlife refuge kiosk coming to airport

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge stickers, T-shirts, magnets, travel stamps and enamel pins will be available.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
5 more COVID deaths reported

The total nationwide fatalities surpass population of Alaska.

Velda Geller fills goodie bags at the Kenai Senior Center on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021 for next weekend’s drive-through trick-or-treat event. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘This has been a lifesaver’

Seniors seek human connection as pandemic continues.

Kenai City Hall on Feb. 20, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
‘A very slippery slope that we need to be careful of’

Approval of library grant postponed after Kenai council requests to preview book purchases

This undated photo released by the Alaska State Department of Public Safety shows Robin Pelkey just before her 18th birthday. The remains of a woman known for 37 years only as Horseshoe Harriet, one of 17 victims of a notorious Alaska serial killer, have been identified through DNA profiling as Robin Pelkey, authorities said Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. (Alaska State Department of Public Safety via AP)
DNA match IDs serial killer’s victim after 37 years

Robin Pelkey was 19 and living on the streets of Anchorage when she was killed by Robert Hansen in the early 1980s, investigators said.

A moose is photographed in Kalifornsky, Alaska, in July 2020. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Illegal moose harvest down from past 5 years

The large majority of moose this year were harvested from North and South Kasilof River areas.

Renee Behymer and Katelyn Behymer (right) of Anchorage win this week’s vaccine lottery college scholarship sweepstakes. (Photo provided)
Dillingham and Anchorage residents win 6th vaccine lottery

“Get it done,” one winner said. “Protect us all, protect our elders and our grandchildren.”

Most Read