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The Little Lucky

A Family Geography

Gail E. Wells

6 × 9 inches. 144 pages.

2007. ISBN 978-0-87071-189-3. Paperback, $17.95.

"When you live in an old house, the remodeling and rehabilitating never end. I guess the same is true when you belong to a family."

A tumble-down schoolhouse and a loving, troubled family are at the heart of The Little Lucky, a reflection of the many ways in which a place can shape and be shaped by family. In discerning and nimble prose, Gail Wells tells the story of how she and her husband moved from their tiny Seattle apartment to her grandfather’s house, formerly an abandoned schoolhouse, near the Little Luckiamute River of western Oregon.

They work earnestly to transform the slantwise structure into a home and discover both joy and frustration along the way. With wry clarity, Wells reveals the tangled dream of living in rural Oregon — a chronically flooded basement, mouse skeletons inside the bathroom walls, and the relentless struggle to fix the unfixable — all while raising a family and salvaging a place alive with memories.

Amid the angst of tearing down and building up, Wells discovers something unexpected: a sense of honorable struggle and the grace of getting what you need rather than what you want. These stories reveal an intimate geography and the dynamic between family and a homeplace. And these are also stories of acceptance, "of doing what you can and letting the rest go; of learning what is precious and what is expendable; of the surprising solace of surrendering to the possible; and of gratitude for incredible good luck."

Member of AAUP