Getting fired from his construction job on the high steel is only the last in a string of bizarre events that finds Mick at home and in charge of doing the shopping, laundry, cooking and every other job that makes up the life of a homemaker. However, during the year that Summer of Light encompasses, Mick pretty much masters all the above while keeping his wandering four-year-old within view, all three kids fed, caught up with homework, at scheduled activities and, as much as possible, unbored. In a book that ranges from slaptstick to tender, W. Dale Cramer entertains and more. As in previous books, he uses the stories of ordinary people â€“ this time Mick Brannigan and his family â€“ to focus on things that really matter, like gaining strength from the look of discovery in a childâ€™s eyes, accepting help when itâ€™s offered, and finding God amongst the poor and the outcast.
The characters in this book are everyday people one could meet in any town. Mick, the point-of -view and main character, is an iron-worker whose cooking experience when he starts his homemaker stint consists of boiling water and throwing a pack of dry noodles in his lunch bucket. His wife Layne, who has just started a long-postponed career as a paralegal, is both career woman and mother bear, willing to stand up to anyone to defend their kids â€“ eight-year-old-Ben, seven-year-old Toad (Clarissa) and four-year-old Dylan. Aubrey, Mickâ€™s uppity neighbor who becomes his photographic mentor, is one of the characters I found most amusing, especially at the beginning. Finally there is the mysterious Man With No Hands who drifts in and out of the action. He seemed to me a sort of Christ figure (reminding me of Cramer characters Harley in Sutterâ€™s Cross and Moss in Bad Ground).
The construction site of an Atlanta high rise is soon displaced by the Brannigansâ€™ suburban acreage as the storyâ€™s setting. Both are described in satisfying detail. Putting a domestically inexperienced yet creative man like Mick in charge of a suburban spread complete with three kids, a wily dog, goat and chickens is a recipe for all kinds of hilarious misadventures. The sight of a manâ€™s man fumbling with the multi-task challenges of the above gave this (female) reader lots of chuckles.