When I saw that Bob Greene had a new book being published, I jumped
at the chance, both to read it and review it. We all have our
favorite writers, those who inspire us, move us, or just please us
with their manner of expression. Greene is one of these writers.
After I received the book in the mail, I waited to read it, knowing
that the subject matter was going to evoke sadness as well as
pleasure. I shouldn't have waited. It is truly a joy to read.
Greene has taken us back through childhood, adolescence and into
the present, through the lives of five best friends: Allen, Bob,
Chuck, Dan and Jack (ABCDJ). "There are a handful of people, during
your lifetime, who know you well enough to understand when the
right thing to say is to say nothing at all. When the right thing
to do is just sit there with you --- either in the room, or on the
other end of a telephone line. To be there."
"Those people --- regardless of how lucky you are in your
friendships, there will be, at most, only a few of them during your
life --- will be with you during your very worst times. When you
think you cannot bear that with which the world has hit you, the
silent presence of those friends will be all you have, and all that
matters." When Bob receives a call that his best friend is very
ill, the only option is to go to Bexley, Ohio to be with Jack.
There simply are no other alternatives.
As the five friends gather, we live their memories of the
restaurant where they met hundreds of times during their
adolescence. We are flies on the wall as the men recall their
favorite songs, school memories and countless other recollections
of their youth together. Bexley, Ohio has changed and grown, as
does each man at the table. In their hearts they have not changed,
although their lives have taken them in different directions. They
have lived through college, marriage, children and, in some cases,
the death of a spouse. Through it all, they've kept in touch; these
friendships are a touchstone to each man and have given life a
special meaning, a value beyond money or distance.
Friendship is something that Bob Greene knows well. He is a master
at retelling the stories, recollections, details and real feelings
that provide such comfort to those who read and enjoy his work. AND
YOU KNOW YOU SHOULD BE GLAD is like a recipe for a great dessert.
There is just enough sweetness so that you will crave more; enough
salt (sorrow) to bring out the flavor; and a delicate texture that
makes it memorable. All in all, Greene has crafted another
beautiful life adventure, in which we can partake. I'd write more,
but I really need to phone my best friend now.
Reviewed by Marge Fletcher on December 22, 2010