You know this story. If you have ever bought a fixer-upper, you know this book. You know the ineptness felt as you walk into Lowe’s or Home Depot about to do something better left to the professionals. You might be intimidated seeing the aisles filled with tool-belted workers taking a break from “real jobs” in order to pick up some more nails, screws, tiles, or wood.
You look the part. You wear the stained and paint splashed coveralls or the Carhartt pants with steel-toed boots ensemble. You hold a styrofoam cup of black coffee in one hand as you stare down the end of a two-by-four hoping others will recognize you as a man or woman of great wood knowledge. Being mindful, the first word you utter might give you away.
Matthew Batt has written a story all of us can relate to at some point in our lives. Not necessarily the renovation project, but he exposes a family hurting and in need of some plaster, grout or caulk. The glue is needed to keep them together as members die and others are stricken with cancer.
The major loss for the family is Matt’s Gram. She was the reason the family met for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She took untold abuse from a philandering husband whom the family remains unaware until the affairs continue after her death.
Grandpa, being a solid 82 years, visits a Ruby once a week and still finds time to sneak off to Vegas for all night gambling and dancing with the home health nurse turned lover, Tonya. The animosity felt towards Tonya from Matt’s mother makes me feel like I am also being disloyal by mentioning her name.
The marriage between Matt and Jenae, sounds like Renee with a J, is also in jeopardy. They have moved around to accommodate his education while letting her professional life suffer. This last move to Utah and the purchase of an odorous house might be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Robin Hemley, author of “Do-Over!” comments, “A DIY book to end all DIY books, full of wit and generosity and mercy for the foibles of family members, friends, hucksters, and most importantly Batt himself.” Pick up Sugarhouse by Matthew Batt and enjoy a life restored.