Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Coming of Age
Approximate word count: 45-50,000 words
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David Elder is a lawyer who lives in Northern Michigan with his dog Sophie. Elder currently has one other novel, Tashtego, available.
For more, visit the author’s website.
“Eric Davis, as a young man just getting out of high school, works in a hardware store in the small Northern Michigan town of Indian River. One night in a bar, he accidently kills another young man by hitting him over the head with a beer bottle. Eric Davis spends the next eight years in prison and then ships out in the merchant marine where he sails the oceans and learns the love of the sea and literature. He becomes a successful writer and decides to celebrate by visiting South Florida.
After a disastrous short marriage in Miami, he sobers up and decides that society is no place for him. Eric Davis moves to a small island in the Caribbean, where he lives alone on his beach with his three legged dog Nelson and a White Pelican. In his solitude, he writes his stories and sends them to the United States for publishing. Once a month, he and Nelson walk to the village where he spends time drinking Red Stripe Beer and Canadian Club Whisky with his best friends Raymond and May.
There comes a night like no other. A ferocious hurricane strikes his island and the life of Eric Davis is seemingly changed forever. In his depression he comes to learn, by a magical turn of events, that no man is an island.
The Gingerbread Man is the story, told in many years, of the emotional growth of Eric Davis and the story of the life of his island and her people. In the end, Eric Davis finds that run, run as hard as you can, sometimes you might just catch the Gingerbread Man.”
A typical coming of age story relates the tale of a teen or young adult having an experience that results in a transformation, typically from handling some aspect of life like a kid to more like an adult. But life has more than two seasons and I think there is a case to be made that the transformation the protagonist Eric goes through in Gingerbread Man is a coming of age story, just at a much older age. (In a secondary story line, Eric’s daughter goes through a more traditional coming of age.)
I enjoyed this read. Part of it was the coming of age or maturation process of a person of more advanced age (I’d like to think we can all change for the better, no matter how old), but also understanding the character of Eric. It was clear early in the book that he had some skeletons in his closet, and understanding what those were, how they had influenced his decisions and approach to life, and watching him finally grow and get beyond them, all figured into the appeal for me.
No significant issues.
Rating: **** Four stars