David Halpert, former Detroit resident, is living in Denver trying to survive the aftermath of his son’s death and subsequent divorce. When his father calls and asks him to move home to Detroit to help care for his ailing mother, David is initially hesitant but interested. Once home, David learns that his former girlfriend Natalie and her brother were gunned down in the city. In an effort to send his condolences, David meets and becomes involved with Natalie’s sister. After meeting Carolyn and spending time in the city, he begins to think there are reasons to be hopeful – about Detroit, about life, about love.
I was pleasantly surprised with Say Nice Things about Detroit by Scott Lasser. I don’t know quite what I was expecting, but what I discovered was a well-paced novel that was equal parts mystery, redemption, and love story. The characters were intelligent and expressive without being overly sentimental. Social commentary of the racially polarized, economically distraught Detroit was included but not unnecessarily overt. In short, Say Nice Things about Detroit is a near perfect work of contemporary fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to what part-time Colorado resident Scott Lasser will write next, I’m only sorry I missed his appearance at the Tattered Cover in Denver the other day. Maybe I’ll make it to his appearance in Boulder.
Bottom line, I’d rate it 4/5. One of the things I was initially drawn to was the title, which I assumed came from a line in the book (about a t-shirt), but I found it was also on a building in Detroit.