Sweet & Crazy, A novel by Patty Dann

Sweet & Crazy


Many funny moments & many sad thoughts, too.

At thirty-nine, Hanna Painter has returned to her hometown of Ash Creek, Ohio. Her husband, Ed is dying of cancer inside their home. Pete is four when his father passes away there. This is the start of Hanna’s journey without her husband by her side.

Hanna, a young widow and her son trying to go on after the death of her husband. Now, a single mom that had hopes of a bigger family instead of a smaller one. Pete becomes a five-year-old expressing so much laughter while his mother grieves inside for what she had once and it is gone. Her close friends and her dreams are keeping her afloat.

Little Pete tells his mom, “Now you’re a window,” he says this after his dad dies in their home. He is quicky, and a comical boy often during this story.

Hanna is teaching older women to write about their lives at the local YMCA and she also works at the local library. Eventually, Pete starts kindergarten and he quickly finds a best friend, named Omar, the Indian son of Mazur, who runs the local cleaners in a strip mall in their town.

Pete wants to keep of his father’s stuff and he moves most of it to his closet for safe keeping. Their neighbor, Thomas becomes a central person in their lives. September 11 becomes an important topic among these characters as the story unfolds and shows us what they felt about it. Thomas works as a cooper at the eighteenth-century colonial restoration outside of town that he calls The Hill. However, he also leaves town often on business. During one of his road trips, a girl appears in his drive. She is driving a flashy sports car and Hanna sees her from her kitchen window.

Hanna, Thomas, and Pete form a  new family together. The Twin Towers are attacked and changes appear in their community.

Prejudice thoughts are a recurring device towards the end of this book. Mazur and his family are a target in the community and Hanna finds herself puzzled by this and the why behind it. Maureen enters Thomas’s life and in turn, she enters into Hanna’s too. The Hill is a setting where the characters often meet or retreat to during the story. Hanna’s dreams are central, too as these characters grow closer to each other.

I’m on page 144 of 208 of Sweet & Crazy: and, Pete asks his mother about the mailman, “Why is he wearing those special gloves?”

The whole story is about Hanna and her life. The ending leaves me thinking about some of the other characters and what happened to them. However, I think Hanna finds what she is looking for through Thomas in the end.

Patty Dann’s writing is very poetic throughout this novel and a joy to read.

Sweet & Crazy


Literary kickoff to 2019-Marly

Follow this link below:


Tuesday, January 01, 2019-Marly Youmans

On the very first day of the year,
on the eighth day of Christmas,
on the Feast of the Holy Name…

I am signing away a two-year option on my novel Catherwood to Toronto director Bill G. Taylor and producer Coral Aiken. As one does at the start of a new year…

Good luck to them. And now they have through the last day of 2020 to do what they must do.

Happy New Year to all! And a merry and mad medieval Feast of Fools to you.

As on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we will have all five of us (plus the inimitable Campbell Higle, childhood camp friend of Rebecca) at home for a feast. Husband, sons, daughter, and friend. And that, my friends, is entirely sweet and meet and jolly.

Michael is hard at work on pies and ducks and many surprises. And I am doing a final read of a forthcoming novel while he labors with chef-genius in the kitchen.

Google image


Second poem of 2019

Barn Adventures
Inside the rough walls,
She saw the last rays of
The sun striking the stacks of hay,
A steamer trunk rested in the corner,
Brass shining,
Outside a blanket of dark grey
Clouds tinged with blues,
Compressed the cloud line
With the evening light mulled
With oranges and purples.
She opened it,
The dusty top touching the barn wall,
Hats, dresses, shoes, purses,
And other trinkets almost
Spilled out,
Even a couple coats and jackets
Mixed with the selections,
She sat down on a wooden stool,
Pulling a filly dress over her
Shorts and a tank top,
Full sleeves of shiny satin,
A lace high-collar.
She pushed her bare feet
Into some high black boots
And picked up a boxy black purse
To match,
A gold compact tumbled out the
The latch not properly closed,
She looked into the mirror of it,
And applied the pink rouge.
Everything fit well,
Even the hat with long
Flowing feathers,
With closed eyes
She tilted her head,
Remnants of the past
Floated among her thoughts,
Children walked through the fields
Of clover with sweet white-tipped blooms
Touching their shins,
The folds of the skirt,
Moved with her gait,
She opened the barn doors
To view the almost gone sun,
Thinking about what she could do
With these treasures of yesterday.–J. E. Cook © 2019

Moonlit Bay, the first poem of 2019

Moonlit Bay
Strips of orange and yellow
Fill the skies before us,
A wide sky of colors on
A background of growing
A white orb is close to the
The closest planet
Named Venus,
To our Earth,
We held hands
And watched the skies
Change before our eyes
Is there another world
Out there like or unlike
Ours here?
Silent moments
Passed between us,
A swish of the tides
Below us,
This planet looks somewhat
Like a big star up there
So close to the moon,
Thick cloud cover reflects
Its light,
As all sunlight disappears,
Venus and moon are
A beautiful pair to view,
This rare couplet with
Commonly shared traits of each other,
But not alike at all,
Glowing up high,
Surrounded by tiny lights,
I waited for him to speak,
We have a silent communication
Between us –so it wasn’t needed,
I was in his embrace,
And he needed no more. –J. E. Cook © 2019

Happy New Year to All~ringing in 2019

Please listen to the Dear John Show at this link  below:

My poem titled, Beams of Joy, will be read by Nina Thilo on this program towards the end of this broadcast. Enjoy these various readings as the year comes to an end.

To have my poem read by another poet is to me a wonderful feeling of accomplishing what I set out to do–convey a message through my writing; however, some poets find it hard to turn over their poems to another to be read out loud to an audience. What are your thoughts on this? Fellow poets and poetesses drop me a line on your view on the subject.

A tender Love poem that creates a painting of emotions with the words in a perfect structure without being too graphic in nature.

Closing 2018, writing poetry.


My Sunflower painting was done in the studio in 2018

Memories of You
To stand at the edge of the bay,
Thinking about my
Life in somewhat general terms,
With the rising sun,
And a tide low at this moment,
Watching the men fish so distantly
From me,
Closing my eyes,
I feel the presence of you,
Memories laced with these fluttering butterflies
That gathered around us on our
The shadowed silhouettes of the boats,
Against the morning skies,
Squinting to escape the rays of light,
I pretended to be content a lot
During our relationship to avoid
Tensions between us,
A crimson sky was not what I desired,
The briny smell of this water
Doesn’t bother me,
I welcome the call of the shorebirds,
But the memories of you are always
With me when I visit the East coast,
We met and it was like summer for me,
As I watch this changing view of a beautiful
Turret with the sun coming up behind it,
I miss you–still.
The water laps between the dock posts,
As the sun becomes a distant blur,
Being with you was the only thing
I ever wanted,
We shared a secret that binds us
Together –even now,
As I sit in this Adirondack chair,
Missing you,
I remember how my little girl
Would wiggle her fingers
Over yours,
Like a blooming sunflower,
You did not imitate her until later,
Memories beat inside my head,
Delicate shapes with brilliant colors
As you form a pattern in our garden,
It is just dead vegetation now and
Loose dirt,
Always something missing now and then,
The sun higher in the sky,
Spilling colors in orange and yellow
Over the water,
The dock boards are cracked and worn,
That first kiss,
His lips were soft on mine,
He will never kiss me again. —J. E. Cook © 2018

The End of Vandalism

The End of Vandalism by Tom Drury
“Rather than writing about international events, I write about individual lives,” –Tom Drury

I think this is Drury’s first novel and it is so impressive!

There are some very sad moments; however, there are also many funny situations, too. The vivid landscape and sense of place are moving as a reader turns the pages. This contemporary story is full of characters so like real life with the daily events. I counted about sixty-eight characters inside this novel and all of them are vivid in their own personalities and their unique flare is brought to life through Drury’s writing voice. His made-up world is filled with these people in their community as they live their daily lives together.

Louise Darling captured my heart as I read her story and experienced her emotional life. She is my favorite character in this book. Her relationship with Dan is eye-opening to what couples can overcome if they stay faithful to each other. I often thought Dan was going to stray or maybe, Louise would move on and never return to her marriage. Their shared loss is the most heart-breaking moment inside this novel but when they reunite it is also the sweet spot of this novel.

I laughed out loud often as I read this one. My first novel by Drury was The Black Brook. Then, I watched the movie, based on his Driftless Area. I loved this movie and brought it. His amazing storytelling makes me want to read more of his writing.

“I love the way that people speak,” he says. “Sometimes when I didn’t know what was going to happen next, I would bring in a new character and see what they said.”–Tom Drury

This novel has a lot of emotion tucked into the pages! So, the overall experience is somewhat drawn from inside the individual reader’s soul.

“There is elation and sadness, death and birth, love and jealousy, co-operation and betrayal. All the great emotional transactions that happen wherever people come together.”–Tom Drury

The End of Vandalism has a sequel titled, Hunts in Dreams. I am going to look for this one and get it. I can’t wait to read more about these characters and their community.

Drury’s writing reputation is further enhanced by the film version of his novel, titled– The Driftless Area, which he himself adapted for the screen so do yourself a favor and watch it! The movie has an impressive cast that includes Zooey Deschanel, Anton Yelchin, Frank Langella, and Ciaran Hinds. I enjoy watching it again and again!


lock and key by Sarah Dessen

Josie's Kaleidoscope

 A story about sisters, family, and discovery.  There are keys that fit the locks to open the possiblities to reach your future. Dessen writes about Ruby’s journey to her destination and what it brings with it to help her fulfill her goals.

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

I finished this one and that made me sad because I am still thinking about these characters and their relationships with each other.

This is a beautiful story about relationships in general and learning to trust after being hurt. The story behind the key follows with the reader as this unfolds and it plays a big part in the theme and the progression of these lives.

Dessen crafts a progression of her main character, Ruby with all the facets on display as this young girl develops into a wonderful person with an adult insight into relationships and what is important to a family unit.

“Our definitions were as…

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Almost Missed You

Almost Missed You

A rollercoaster of emotions as I read and finished this novel. I know it is an amazing read when I am really quite sad that it is finished!

The exploration of the degrees of forgiveness is wonderful and these characters are very layered with real and compelling thoughts.

Violet goes through a huge transformation along with Caitlin as this story unfolds with the human factor of being a mother trying to protect their child or children.

However, George is the one that completely surprised me as I finished this book. He doesn’t really have a big part in this novel until almost the end. He mostly comes through in Caitlin’s thoughts as this story begins and starts to move forward.

Finn is a mystery at times with his process of thinking about his life and the people in it because he is moving with a somewhat foggy path as he lives with these other characters. One of my favorite parts is Finn trying to go back in time through his thoughts. on page 123, “If one of Finn’s creaky walk-in pantries or child-size built-in cupboards or understair crawl spaces would turn into a portal to another day, another time, he would jump through and emerge on…” this section is about him examining his decisions.

Caitlin’s protective demeanor is on-spot as she thinks about how to help Violet and also protect the children at the cabin. Her first concern is always the boys as she tries to get Bear to Violet.

Violet and Caitlin are both depending on hope as they try to come to terms with Finn’s behavior and the situation he has created in their lives. Then, George enters into the equation and his reactions and thoughts are sharp and richly textured compared to some of the other characters.

On page 278, there is a return to the Connections page, and it’s where George really shines as he confronts Finn. On the following page, “But I was giving you way too much credit. As usual, it’s the women around you who have the courage to step up,…” George is very upset and he’s telling Finn about all the strong women in his life.

On page 292, “I was going there with her to erase the image of you and replace it with her. And instead, I erased her, forever.” –the telling moment!

Violet makes her decisions and she moves with Bear. She has been through Hell. She goes on and she returns to the workforce. She is a single mom, but a lucky one.

This is an amazing debut novel with many twists and turns. Tender and heartbreaking with real connections and painful secrets being uncovered as it flows to the end.