When aging, balding, copy editor Ernest "Sparky" Hemmingway (no relation) got a call from Tenishia, the daughter of his late Vietnam buddy George Washington (also no relation), he was faced with a choice: head out to Minneapolis to help her out of a jam or hang up the phone. He made the decision to help and it changed his life. Along with his old army buddy Doc Holiday (you guessed it - no relation) Sparky faced down the bad guys and found out who caused Washington's death.
Sparky chooses to give Tenishia a shot at a normal life and takes her back to the little North Dakota town of Hardwoods, filled with decidedly odd folks who just do what they have to in order to get along - a place where everybody knows everybody's else secrets but pretends they don't.
When he begins the unenviable task of rearing an almost grown inner-city teenager, many in the town think he's nuts. But this girl isn't just anybody, and the bonds - and promises - made in war sometimes last even longer than a man's life.
Just when Sparky thinks he's got the hang of his new lifestyle, he gets roped into becoming a deputy sheriff and runs smack dab into a political wrangle over the possible building of a major trauma center in the town. The hospital could be just the thing to save a sleepy little hamlet that loses farm kids every year to the big cities. But Hardwoods isn't the only town that is vying for the honor, and where people's jobs and lives are at stake, is there any doubt that a dead body or two will join the party any minute?
If you could sum up Family Matters in three words, what would they be?
This is really much better than home front but there is so much more I want to hear about these characters. I hope someone will continue Joel's Sparky series.
Who was your favorite character and why?
I like the special ed teacher best - she is sort of the wise one in the story -
What about Tom Richards’s performance did you like?
He speaks for all the characters in the way they sound in my mind when I read the book. This is a great talent. Wish I could explain this.
Any additional comments?
Please have someone continue this series. 2011 was a very sad year.
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