In Tin Man by Sarah Winman, Ellis is an artist at heart and his mother, Dora, appreciates beauty but is stuck in a small, dark life. She encourages Ellis to stay in school and follow his heart while a copy of Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" painting is the one ray of sunshine in her dark world. But, Ellis's father has other plans for him.
Michael's young life has been fraught with pain. At the age of 12, he goes to live with his grandmother, Mabel, and everything changes. Here (with his grandmother in Oxford, UK), he finds love, acceptance, and the best friend of his life, Ellis. As he and Ellis grow, their relationship changes. And, then when Ellis marries Annie, he becomes part of a trio -- Michael, the bubbly writer who makes everyone laugh; Ellis, the artistic, thoughful one; Annie, everyone's friend, the one who sees into your soul (and a book lover). But, Michael disappears for years and loses contact.
Annie and Ellis miss Michael but they don't even know where to look for him. Realizing they've become dull without him, they make an effort to add some fizz to their lives. And, then one day Michael returns and tragedy strikes.
All of this is told upon reflection, as a painfully lonely Ellis reflects on his life. It is, oddly, the ability of a 19-year-old Ellis is teaching to knock dents out of car metal who finally gets Ellis's pain right and, in so doing, helps him to realize that there's still life to be lived.
Highly recommended - Heartbreaking and achingly beautiful, the story of a friendship between two boys that stretches and changes, then alters to fit in a third person and the tragedy that upends it all. A tale of love, loss and hope. There's much I can't talk about without spoiling Tin Man, but just . . . wow. What an amazing read. The book bounces back and forth between the 60s, the 90s, and somewhere in-between. It's a book with a melancholy tone, yet there's always a thread of hope winding its way through the prose and it ends on a high note. It is so very, very real and the end is just so freaking perfect and beautiful that I sat on the bed, staring at my cats with tears streaming down my face. This one will go on the good shelves.
Note: The cover is so gorgeous that I tried to position it to best effect to show how the gold glistens in the light. It's apropos, too, as it's an image of Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" (one from the series).
Release date for this hardback copy is May 15, 2018.
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