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An Unfinished Life | [Mark Spragg]

An Unfinished Life

Jean Gilkyson is floundering in a trailer house in Iowa with yet another brutal boyfriend when she realizes this kind of life has got to stop, especially for the sake of her daughter, Griff. But the only place they can run to is Ishawooa, Wyoming, where Jean's loved ones are dead and her father-in-law, the only person who could take them in, wishes that she was, too.
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Publisher's Summary

Jean Gilkyson is floundering in a trailer house in Iowa with yet another brutal boyfriend when she realizes this kind of life has got to stop, especially for the sake of her daughter, Griff. But the only place they can run to is Ishawooa, Wyoming, where Jean's loved ones are dead and her father-in-law, the only person who could take them in, wishes that she was, too. For a decade, Einar Gilkyson has blamed her for the accident that took his son's life, and he has chosen to go on living himself largely because his oldest friend couldn't otherwise survive. They've been bound together like brothers since the Korean War and now face old age on a faltering ranch, their intimacy even more acute after Mitch was horribly crippled while Einar helplessly watched.

Of course, 10-year-old Griff knows none of this, only that her father is dead and her mother has bad taste in men. But once she encounters this grandfather she'd never heard about, and the black cowboy confined to the bunkhouse, with irrepressible courage and great spunk she attempts to turn grievous loss, wrath, and recrimination, to which she's naturally the most vulnerable, toward reconciliation and love.

©2004 Mark Spragg; (P)2004 HighBridge Company

What the Critics Say

"Generations come of age, each in its own way, as tenderness survives stubbornness, pain, and silence. Each word counts for more than it says in this achingly beautiful story of courage and endurance." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (95 )
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4.7 (23 )
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  •  
    Marie E Nelson 11-23-05 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    42
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    "An enjoyable story"

    I am not good at this but liked this book enough to give it a try. It is a simple story that has no surprizing twists along the way but the narration is very good and the characters are people you can like. The 10 year old girl that is the central character is a treat and so are the two old men in her life. I enjoyed it and hope others will get the same good feelings and enjoyment from it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Timothy 05-06-09
    Timothy 05-06-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    34
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    10
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    "Unfortunately I have lived this book."

    I live in Wyoming. I definately feel a "kinship" with the main character in this story. Sadness prevails here where I live alone, because I lost my son also, August 2008.
    Although the movie is very good, played by my favorite movie actors Redford & Freeman, I feel the book is much better, and I wish the movie had stayed closer to the way the book was written.
    I hope no one ever has to go through the loss of their child. As was said in the movie, "We (parents), are not supposed to outlive our children".
    To bad I don't have someone like Morgan Freeman to lean on. You will enjoy this book.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian Park City, UT, USA 10-28-09
    Brian Park City, UT, USA 10-28-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Not the Movie"

    It's funny, you know, that most of the time the movie is not as good as the book. This is true because of many reasons, but most of all because it is difficult to interpret and compress the book into 2 hours of visual screen experience. The book can easily get inside the character's head and for the movie, it is not so easy. You have to show and not tell, etc. Now having said that, I think Lasse Hallstrom's film version is far more accessible, compelling, and just a more complete story than this book. The reading is pretty good, though I'm old fashioned and prefer a solo reader than the book being read by two people--a man and a woman. I think that it would have been a better presentation with just the male voice. The inclusion of the female voice feels like it reaching too hard to be gender correct with a story that is partly about spousal abuse. The film is very well cast (R.Redford, M.Freeman, J. Lopez) and the story feels more complete and resolved. The book seems too be missing elements (unusual) and just kind of ends. Yet this is a decent read and a recommend, especially if you like to play the game of book/film comparision.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Heard 12-28-06
    Sam Heard 12-28-06 Listener Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    42
    4
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    "Pretty Good story"

    I enjoyed this book. The story was good and the character were realistic and well-rounded. It is worth the read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary California, MD, United States 10-19-05
    Mary California, MD, United States 10-19-05 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    "Imaginative and engaging"

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book and felt connected with its characters. Very imaginative tale of forgiveness, family, and friendship.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marlina Middleton, WI, United States 03-21-13
    Marlina Middleton, WI, United States 03-21-13 Member Since 2009

    Neena

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wasn't Sure I Would Like This Novel"

    Sometimes, I will get an audiobook because I don't have time to read the book. This book has been sitting in my Audible library for a while, without listening to it. For the last few weeks however I have been listening to the novels in my Audible library that I haven't listened to. This is a great listen, it is only about 8 hours long, and I enjoyed every minute of it. The narrators were great for this novel and they made it come to life; I haven't seen the movie made of this novel but I have to say there is no way that it could be better than this Audible reading. This novel is about coming of age, loss and family, the way that it is written is engaging and I recommend it highly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Cator 06-17-10 Listener Since 2005
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    Overall
    "Nice Surprise"

    I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Good character development and I loved the use of 2 narrators to tell the story. They did a great job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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