By Steve YarbroughKnopf, $25.95, 272 pages
The economic decline of the country hits home for Kristin Stevens when she and her husband, Cal, are forced to relocate to the northeast after Kristin loses her job as a college administrator in California. The middle-aged couple finds a house in Massachusetts and tries to settle into a new life, but the move has caused the pair to realize how far apart they have grown from each other. Kristin’s desperation to find comfort leads her to Matt, her divorced next-door neighbor. Together, the two both try to reclaim feelings that neither of them had imagined to feel again.
The Realm of Last Chances by Steve Yarbrough is a novel so stuck in the ordinary that it will leave the reader feeling like they are flipping through the journals of mundane, depressive middle-aged New Englanders. The language is dull, and when Yarbrough deviates from his basic prose, his awkward phases stick out like a sore thumb.
“You couldn’t hide anything forever.”
The characters apparently are all incredibly jaded, having dark pasts they keep mulling over throughout the novel. The insights the reader is given about each character are neither overly interesting nor fully relevant to the overall storyline. When an interesting revelation is made however, the author abandons the point in favor of pursuing another lengthy passage concerning the exact path Kristin took to walk from her office to another office. There were chances to develop the characters of Kristin, Cal, and Matt into sympathetic or gripping figures, but it is clear that none of them were taken.
After reaching the last sentences, the reader will no doubt feel a sense of relief – though this emotion might be overshadowed by stronger feelings, such as frustration and annoyance.
Reviewed by Lara Carvin