Goodnight, Nebraska

McNeal, Tom. Goodnight, Nebraska. New York: Vintage, 1999.

This could have been a movie for me. It is the coming of age, and redemptive story of Randall Hunsacker. Although he is just a teenager Randall has been sent to Goodnight, Nebraska to turn his life around. He has escaped a violent past and left behind a broken family in Salt Lake City. Redemption is not what Randall is seeking, at least not at first. Goodnight is a small tight-knit community and Randall’s inclusion is not readily welcomed. He rebels with ridicule in letters to his sister and remains a mystery in school. The only place Randall allows himself to feel anything is by being violent on the football field. Over the course of ten years Randall slowly starts to settle down with a wife and an occupation. It is during this time that Randall realizes redemption is what he needed all along.

My one complaint? At one point the story breaks away from Randall and follows his wife, Marcy, when she decides she needs a fresh start. After Randall starts drinking and becomes progressively violent she leaves Randall behind and escapes to California. There is no real explanation for Randall’s behavior and you almost want the marriage to fall apart.

Favorite lines – one really short and one really long: “Me. I believe in me” (p 126), and “…there are some kinds of love, the ones we’re all after, that are meant for open air and natural light, but there are other kinds too, more than we’d like to think, that come out of the dark and drag us away and tear parts from our bodies, kinds of love that work in their own dim rooms, and harbor more sad forms of intimacy and degradation and sustenance that those standing outside those rooms can ever dream of” (p 260).

BookLust Twist: From more Book Lust in the chapter called, “The Great Plains: Nebraska” (p 108).

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