What if life throws you a curveball, shearing your dreams off course? Eileen Leary harbors modest ambitions: family, a modest home, work with meaning. Just when she can reach it all though, the Learys are dealt a crippling blow. This is a grand novel told through the lens of one valiant family. It’s a perfect encapsulation of all the complexities of the great American dream -- so close and yet out of grasp for many. The subject matter is rife for melodrama but in his moving debut, despite a shaky start, Matthew Thomas avoids cliche to devastating and remarkable effect. 4.5 stars.