Bowling Avenue by Ann Shayne

Bowling Avenue by Ann Shayne follows Delia Ballenger’s re-acquaintance with all things Nashville, including her absentee mother, statuesque brother-in-law, and two nieces she barely knows when she’s given her sister Ginna’s house, 603 Bowling Avenue.  Bowling Avenue has a culture all its own, with the in-your-business neighbors and the families of doctors from the Vanderbilt.  Delia has lived her life on her own terms, but has rarely returned home for family gatherings or holidays, spending her time alone in Chicago catering to the needs of the super rich on holiday in a variety of countries.  She’s lived an isolated life, and because of that her sister’s death is even more shocking as are the revelations that come with her passing.

“I don’t believe in ghosts, I really don’t.  So the prospect of staying at my dead sister’s house is not daunting in terms of worrying that I’m going to run into a spectral Ginna wandering the hall in her Lanz of Salzburg nightgown.  Actually, that would be really terrifying.  She wore those things all her life:  eyelet trimmed, flannel, hot as fiberglass insulation.”  (Page 10)

Death can change family dynamics in many ways, and Shayne examines how the death of a loved one can either tear a family further apart or bring them closer.  In the Ballenger family, communication is practically non-existent unless you are looking for sarcastic comebacks or blame.  Delia has a lot to learn not only about dealing with grief, but also about what it means to find a home and a family.  Shayne has a unique style and deftly wields the first person point of view through which readers learn the Ballenger family secrets.  The secrets unfold bit by bit as Delia attempts to get her sister’s house ready for sale, and as she deals with her mother’s interference and her brother-in-law’s hands-off approach to fatherhood and family.

Nashville has more than the music business, and Shayne has some of the quirkiest characters.  They are by turns fun and infuriating, but that’s what makes the story so engaging.  Bowling Avenue by Ann Shayne is a fun read with a tender heart.  Delia and her family will make you feel at home and wrap you up in their arms.  Readers will be cheering her on as she examines her past, her present, and her future.

***I want to thank Alma Katsu for recommending this book to me.***

About the Author:

Ann Shayne lives in Nashville with her husband and two sons. She is the co-author, with Kay Gardiner, of Mason-Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitter’s Guide and Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines. Their blog, Mason-Dixon Knitting, has persevered since 2003 despite constant begging for them to shut up.

This is my 73rd book for the New Authors Reading Challenge in 2012.