Genre: General Fiction
Release Date: December 6, 2023
Walmart doesn't have this title available, but So Long, Chester Wheeler: A Novel is so beautiful and touching that I want to make sure there's a link to the Amazon page. I may not get a commission this way, but I really don't care. I just want readers to get to know Chester.
So Long, Chester Wheeler just about broke my heart, and I mean that in the nicest way. Many, many years ago, I became so incredibly hooked in another Catherine Ryan Hyde novel and I said she's been an author to watch. I was definitely right, and many years later, she has topped Pay It Forward.
Chester is a grumpy, homophobic jerk. He's also dying. That's why his daughter is so desperate to find a caregiver who won't give in to his attitude and quit within a week.
Enter his neighbor, Lewis Madigan, a gay software engineer who is expecting the first sizable raise in his new career only he gets a pink slip. Not only that, but Lewis's boyfriend leaves him and takes their entire savings at the same time. Lewis needs money badly enough that he agrees to be Chester's caregiver until Chester's daughter is able to find someone else.
Chester has never had a nice word for Lewis, but Lewis is made of tougher material than past caregivers. He lets Chester's attitude and insults roll off him. When Chester demands that Lewis drive him from New York to Arizona in Chester's old Winnebago, so that Chester can settle a few things with the ex-wife he hasn't seen in over three decades. Lewis has no intention on saying yes, yet that's exactly what he ends up doing.
I loved this book. In a lot of ways, Chester's grumpiness reminded me a lot of my mom when she was dying. My mom wasn't like Chester in terms of bigotry, but the hurtful things she could say as Alzheimer's destroyed her brain. They were really hard to let roll off, so I get how strong Lewis was.
Watching the men develop a friendship, of sorts, made this book seem very genuine. I was hooked and sat up late at night to see how it would all play out. I wasn't disappointed.