"Sweet By and By" - By The Book Bluegrass Band
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Johnson's bittersweet and often humorous hen-lit debut portrays the lives of five very different Southern women: compassionate Lorraine, bossy Margaret, grief-stricken Bernice, ambitious April and brusque Rhonda. At the center of this character-driven novel is Lorraine, a nurse at the nursing home where Margaret and Bernice live. As the three women drift into friendship, hairdresser Rhonda arrives to take a part-time job, and the older women begin to change her life. Lorraine's daughter, April, meanwhile, is also gradually drawn into the circle. The story unfolds slowly over decades and life milestones, giving the characters plenty of time to reveal themselves. Johnson has a sure ear for Southern speech, though the dialect can become tiresome, and the narrative's lack of plot makes the novel feel overlong.
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In his new novel, Todd Johnson tackles life in a nursing home and the final stages of aging.
Instead, he tackles what could be called the interim by and by, the thing so many of us fear—life in a nursing home and the final stages of aging. And he manages to take some of the sting out of what can be a painful experience. Raised in the South, Johnson was close to his four grandparents and spent much time with them, especially his grandmothers when they entered nursing homes in North Carolina. We begin to experience the nursing home through their eyes. The usual suspects show up—the unsavory staff members, the impatient and uninvolved family members, the bouts of ill health. But something hopeful emerges as well. Numbers speak volumes.
Set in a nursing home in rural Johnston County, N. She is filled with dignity, wit and the grace she was born with as the daughter of North Carolina tobacco farmers. Though infirm from painful arthritis, she can still spar with others offering intelligent commentary, displaying integrity and independence. Just ask Lorraine, the God-fearing African-American practical nurse who takes care of her. Lorraine, a humble but venerable middle-aged woman believes in treating the elderly—even those suffering from dementia—with complete compassion and respect. She and Margaret exchange many dialogues, keeping them both on their toes and bonding through trust to be forever friends. Lorraine has had a hardscrabble life.