Here is a summary of the View from Mount Joy by Lorna Landvik from the Random House website:
When teenage hockey player Joe Andreson and his widowed mother move to Minneapolis, Joe falls under the seductive spell of Kristi Casey, Ole Bull High’s libidinous head cheerleader. Joe balances Kristi’s lustful manipulation with the down-to-earth companionship of his smart, platonic girlfriend, Darva. But it is Kristi who will prove to be a temptation (and torment) throughout Joe’s life.
Years later, Joe can’t believe that life has deposited him in the aisles of Haugland Foods. But he soon learns that being a grocer is like being the mayor of a small town: His constituents confide astonishing things and always appreciate Joe’s generous dispensing of the milk of human kindness. The path Kristi has charged down, on the other hand, is as wild as Joe’s is tame. But who has really risked more? Who has lived more? And who is truly happy? As Joe discovers, sometimes people are lucky enough to be standing in the one place where the view of the world is breathtaking, if only they’ll open their eyes to all there is to see.
I will start off by saying that Lorna Landvik is an author that really holds a special place in my heart. Her book, Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, really was the inspiration for the start of the Sweet Connections book club that has been meeting for almost five years now. The View from Mount Joy is the first book that I have read by Lorna that is narrated from a male perspective and I really think she did a good job. Considering that the book starts out by going inside the mind of a teenage boy, somewhere I really haven't wanted to be before, really set the stage for this novel.
Joe is a hockey player and the new kid in a Minneapolis school. Kristi just happens to be the head cheerleader that is dating the captain of the hockey team, so she gets blown into Joe's life by the friends that they share. And boy, is this girl something! Although Joe and Kristi do share an odd relationship, I think his closest high school friendship is made with a girl named Darva. Their friendship does remain intact and actually blossoms several years after their high school career is completed.
This novel does take you through Joe's entire life--as he completes his college career at the University of Minnestoa, takes over ownership of a local grocery store, and eventually starts his own family. As Joe attends college he starts out by participating on the hockey team. After a couple of injuries he realizes his mortality and admits his fear to himself. I really enjoyed this part of the book, as young men can appear to be macho and fearless, because Joe actually gave up playing hockey because of his fears.
When Joe is given the opportunity to take over the grocery store, at first he is apprehensive. His long-term dreams definitely did not involve running a grocery store! His management skills and creativity really start to make a name for himself though. His store becomes one of the most popular markets around as he enjoys making up little contests for his customers that award prizes that he knows they need. As an example, he knew one of his lady customers has been very stressed lately and in need of some TLC. Joe thought up a contest that he knew only she would win, so she would win a certificate to Patty Jane's House of Curl(which by the way is the title of one of Lorna's previous books). He really developed into his position and made the business quite successful.
Throughout Joe's life Kristi would blow in and out like a tornado. Joe and his friends become shocked as they get older to learn that Kristi has become a television evangelist. Knowing how she had acted during high school, and the few times that he had seen her since, the career choice did not fit the Kristi that he knew. As these parts of Kristi were put in the later half of the book, I couldn't help but think that she reminded me of Tammy Baker.
I enjoyed watching Joe mature from a wild teenager into a very well respected family and business man. I think that you should be forewarned that the beginning of this novel does contain some sexual content that some of you may find offensive. As I was reading those parts, I just kept in mind that the story was being told from the view of a teenage boy.
I have really enjoyed Lorna's novels and you can find out more about her books by going to her website. Most of her novels take place in Minnesota, which I have alway enjoyed because she writes about places that I know or have actually been to, since I live in Northern Wisconsin. Our book club actually met Wednesday night to discuss this book, but unfortunately I was unable to attend. I am looking forward to see how the other ladies like this one.
My Rating: 4/5