Halfway through this book, you begin to be glad you're not a teenager anymore. But being a grownup is no cinch either. Perhaps tennis carries the best lesson for living the right life—love all. Well, that is, within reason.
And reason has some heavy pitching to do in Love All, which, despite its tennis proclivities, is set in the famous baseball sanctum of Cooperstown, New York in 1994. Thus it inherits all the typical small-town problems, along with the distinctive ones of baseball and tennis, and the two sports run into each other along the way, figuratively speaking.
When 74-year-old Joanie Cole dies in her sleep one night, she leaves her husband Bob to contemplate their 54 years of marriage, forever shot through with his own casual and continual betrayals. Now, unable to care for himself, he is forced to move to his daughter's house, taking with him guilty memories of a marriage in which he has been chronically unfaithful.
Years before, a tell-all novel about marital hijinks in Cooperstown had been published, and is now found where Joanie put it long ago, under the mattress of their bed. (Bob's name is not in it, but could have been.) It will never cause the uproar it did at publication, but Bob relives the times of his infidelities with more guilt than he ever felt before.
Meanwhile, their daughter Anne has problems of her own, with her private-school superintendant husband, Hugh, who is caught in a more current romantic adventure. And, finally, their teenage daughter, Julia, who loves to play tennis, struggles to sort out her feelings between her best buddies, Sam and Carl, with all three of them fighting a losing battle with teenage angst.
Callie Wright, a reporter-researcher for Vanity Fair who lives in Brooklyn, has received a Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers. Her first novel could go any number of ways, and she doesn't tie it down with a specific conclusion. Filled with well-drawn characters, Love All is a book to admire for its total understanding of human misunderstandings.