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The Life We Bury

A USA Today bestseller and book club favorite!

College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe’s life is ever the same.

Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran–and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.

As Joe writes about Carl’s life, especially Carl’s valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Joe, along with his skeptical female neighbor, throws himself into uncovering the truth, but he is hamstrung in his efforts by having to deal with his dangerously dysfunctional mother, the guilt of leaving his autistic brother vulnerable, and a haunting childhood memory. 

Thread by thread, Joe unravels the tapestry of Carl’s conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it’s too late to escape the fallout?

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Anonymous says:

The rethinking of the guilt of the Vietnam War As a 100 percent disabled Vietnam Veteran, due to Agent Orange exposure, I fully related to Carl Iverson.For years I couldn’t speak about the war, whether because of the shame the American public cast upon our service, or because of my participation in the war itself.Sprayed and betrayed by our own government, then shunned by the rest of the country, no wonder so many of us went insane or turned to self-medication.I loved the plot of The Life We Bury, Mr. Eskens’ mastery of…

Anonymous says:

character interaction and psychological aspects that make this a great story and read The back-jacket summary drew me in and proved (unlike so many novels) to be an honest pitch: A story about a student writer who, somewhat by chance, locates the subject of his biographical (college class) project at a nearby nursing home. The biographical subject, a Vietnam War vet who was convicted of rape and murder 30 years earlier, is dying of cancer thereby introducing an added, looming deadline to finish the writing project. The writer begins with the weary task of documenting the life…

Anonymous says:

Has a lot to recommend it; the author’s voice, interesting characters, and excellent suspense. First Sentence: I remember being pestered by a sense of dread as I walked to my car that day, pressed down by a wave of foreboding that swirled around my head and broke against the evening in small ripples.Joe Talbot’s college English course writing assignment to write a brief biography leads him to a local nursing home and Carl Iverson. Carl, dying of cancer, had been released from prison after being convicted of the rape and murder of a neighbor girl. Carl’s only condition is…

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