For One More Day is the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?
As a child, Charley “Chick” Benetto was told by his father, “You can be a mama’s boy or a daddy’s boy, but you can’t be both.” So he chooses his father, only to see the man disappear when Charley is on the verge of adolescence.
Decades later, Charley is a broken man. His life has been crumbled by alcohol and regret. He loses his job. He leaves his family. He hits bottom after discovering his only daughter has shut him out of her wedding. And he decides to take his own life.
He makes a midnight ride to his small hometown, with plans to do himself in. But upon failing even to do that, he staggers back to his old house, only to make an astonishing discovery. His mother, who died eight years earlier, is still living there, and welcomes him home as if nothing ever happened..
What follows is the one “ordinary” day so many of us yearn for, a chance to make good with a lost parent, to explain the family secrets, and to seek forgiveness. Somewhere between this life and the next, Charley learns the astonishing things he never knew about his mother and her sacrifices. And he tries, with her tender guidance, to put the crumbled pieces of his life back together.
Happy September, lovelies! So this is a super special month here in my readerly universe. September marks the month my brilliant and amazing cousin (who inspired my USF alum Georgia in Meant to be Different) entered this world a couple of dozen years (and some change) ago. So to celebrate the fact she exists, she was given permission to take over my reading list for the entire month WHICH INCLUDES NON FICTION. Listen, y’all, this is what true love looks like.
She started me off with an absolute gem that I can’t wait to share with you guys.
For One More Day is a gripping story despite the slow, meandering pace. This story is told in multiple timelines which is something I love. Our narrator is a vague human who is a former sports writer that hears through the grapevine that the older man sitting at the baseball game is a former MLB catcher (for only a six week stint though) who apparently tried to kill himself.
Yes, you did hear the audible screeching of brakes. Charles “Chick” Benetto has had his issues. Within the first pages of the book as Chick is relaying a few random pieces of his life, you realize what a hot mess of a train wreck this man is. He was an alcoholic who lost jobs and money, was divorced, and was so estranged from his only child that he only knew about his daughter’s wedding weeks after the event when a card showed up in the mail with pictures inside notifying him that it happened.
With no return address.
Yeah, it was cold, but Chick also earned it. The relationship that was the most damaged however, was the one with his mother. Through his childhood he’d “picked” to please his dad and earn favor in the other man’s eyes while neglecting his patient, steady, self-sacrificing mother who positively adored him. Even after his father abandoned their family, Chick still strived to do everything in his power to earn his approval. Thinking, perhaps as kids do, that if he performed well enough, dad would come home.
I say that the fracture between Chick and his mother was the deepest because when we meet Chick, his mother had passed eight years earlier. She died after he spoke to her in anger. After he lied to her. And in Chick’s alcohol fueled depression, his desire to end his own life is amplified by the guilt of not having more time with her, time where he could prove how much he loved and appreciated her.
But rather than his suicide attempt being successful, it transports Chick to a sort of alternate reality. A place where he is given one more day with his mother. A day that opens his eyes, fills in so many blanks, and convicts him for all his vitriol toward her over the years.
The veils are lifted for Chick at the same time they are for the reader and you walk this path with him. All except who the narrator is. It may sound like a simple thing, but friends when, in the final pages, we discover who is behind For One More Day, who is retelling Chick’s story of a supernatural encounter with his dead mother… it truly changes the entire scope of what you’ve just read.
I can not recommend For One More Day highly enough. And stay tuned as I broaden my readerly horizons throughout this month.