The novel starts out with Michael, one of the main characters, in a church looking for forgiveness. After having helped his terminally ill father, John (from whom, for many reasons, Michael was long estranged until his dad was diagnosed with cancer), end his suffering, he now carries the heavy weight of what he’s done. But after that absolution is denied, with the Catholic priest labeling him “a murderer”, Michael steps out into the bright light of day and thinks of everything that came to pass in getting him to that moment.
What follows is a retrospective account of eighteen plus months (from before his father’s illness, until after his death) that transforms Michael forever. And it is not just he that is profoundly changed during the journey. During that time father and son reconcile and heal one another in the process. However, no one exists in a vacuum, and the course of healing and understanding that the two men, father and son, embark upon affects other lives along the way. They run the gambit from Michael’s ex-wife and children, to his soon to be gone married lover -- with the child he never knows he has fathered, to a receptionist at the Cancer Clinic at which John is seeking treatment and all the way to a homeless disabled person.
Lives interconnect and touch each other in ways that sometimes only make sense on down the road and the reader, at times, is left to speculate at the outcomes of these linkages. All along the way though, Michael is learning what it means, as is, strangely so, his father, to be a man. Those lessons are sometimes hard, sometimes poignant, and at times even comical.
And as John begins to lose his battle for life, he asks his son for help in finding his way from this world into the next. What follows, those scenes, have doubtless been carried out many times in many families. However, it seems that we choose not to talk about them. That is a pity, and a loss, in general, for our society.
You see, it is only in learning how to fully accept death, our own as well as when it visits those that we love, that we truly and completely learn how to live. When we can do that, we understand, just as Michael does at the end of the book, that life is an adventure, an extra-ordinary adventure…