"Nothing in my life has ever mattered more to me than my musical ability. Not my parents, not my children, not even Arthur. And I'm only beginning to understand the cost of this, for each of us."
In The Distance Between Us, author Bart Yates takes readers inside the mind and life of Hester Parker, a sharp-witted, 71-year-old retired concert pianist with a mansion in an Illinois college town, an estranged husband, two equally distant children, and a new boarder in her attic apartment.
When Alex arrives as Hester's new tenant, he discovers a woman whose humor he can't quite understand, but it is in this emotionally charged house that he chooses to live with his secrets.
Hester is in the struggle of her life, wondering where it all went wrong. When her brilliant career abruptly ended after a wrist injury in her prime, Hester turned to raising a family, two musically talented sons and a daughter, a gifted child in nearly every way...except in music. Now, years later, her family is as broken as her body.
Her husband, having recently left her for his mistress of 15 years, is threatening to take away her beloved home, and her children can barely stand to speak to her, holding her accountable for nearly anything and everything they can think of.
Hester and Alex form an unlikely friendship, sharing more in common than they would like...an older woman estranged from her children and a young man estranged from his parents. The two will soon need each other to weather the storms ahead of them.
While it is Hester's quirky, eccentric personality that sucks you into the book, it is soon evident that her humor, usually aided with a healthy amount of alcohol, is a mask for her immense pain. I was immediately drawn to her candidness and felt protective over the woman whose once-promising life had turned out so tragic.
I'm going to go ahead and call it...this book has a sure place on my list of the best books of the year. This is the story of a family at their very worst...and a book with writing at its very best. Alternately funny and unbearably sad, it is ultimately redemptive.