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Reviewed by Donna Gielow McFarland for Readers' Favorite
The setting of Lily Lives on Mount Rainier by Arley M. Fosburgh is a little community, almost too small to be called a town, in the shadow of Mount Rainier. In this town live a grieving, widowed grandmother and her autistic savant four-year-old grandson, Sandy. Sandy and his grandmother’s lives are intertwined with others: Thomas, Elizabeth, Rebecca and Paully and, as the story unfolds, the reader gets a very introspective look into each of their lives. Sandy has an insatiable appetite for reading and he is obsessed with flowers including an avalanche lily, which he believes rides on his shoulder and talks to him. His only desire is to visit Mount Rainier, the one place that his grandmother does not want to go. The story is so deep and introspective that it almost seems as though nothing ever happens when, in fact, a great deal happens.
Arley M. Fosburgh writes in a clear, compelling manner. The descriptions of real places have such a rich and vivid accuracy that anyone who has ever driven through the Nisqually entrance of Mount Rainier will recognize every switchback and view on the way to Paradise. Lily Lives on Mount Rainier is a different sort of novel (I really don’t know how to classify it) and the point of view navigates from one character to another. The depiction of Sandy and his inner world is especially poignant. Fosburgh dishes out clues to the backstory as the story goes along and she wraps up the ending nicely, even if she leaves some questions unanswered. I found the writing enjoyable and I was sorry when the book ended because I just wanted to keep reading. Recommended for Fosburgh’s beautiful writing, but also highly recommended for readers who have an autistic child in their lives.