The Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert was a very enjoyable read – one that I wanted to pick up every chance I had a little time for reading. The story is narrated by Essie Myles, an 83-year-old obituary writer for a small town Nebraska newspaper. The newspaper was started by her father and is now run by Essie’s grandson, Doc. The newspaper’s printing press also happens to be the location secretly chosen to print the last book in a wildly popular young adult series.
Essie begins the story with a trip to The Crippled Eighty, a local farm, to write the obituary of Lenore, a young girl who was reported missing months before. Essie sits with Lenore’s mother, Daisy, to discuss Daisy’s wish for Essie to write her daughter’s obituary. Daisy does not believe Lenore to be deceased, but she misses the attention that she received when Lenore was front page news. She seeks to regain that attention. Essie then backtracks her story to the point at which Lenore first went missing so that the reader can better understand Daisy’s motives for her obituary request.
Daisy’s story about Lenore missing is problematic. At first the small town rallies together to search for Lenore, but slowly the town begins to doubt Daisy’s story and many wonder whether Lenore ever even existed. Then there is the issue of Daisy working at the printing press where the final installment of that young adult series is being printed. Daisy begins reading excerpts of what may or may not be the official final book via CB radio. The town is captivated by these readings until Daisy stops broadcasting. Then the town begins to forget about Daisy and Lenore.
The novel includes additional subplots that depict the dynamic of Essie’s family and the reclusive nature of the young adult series author. Schaffert has written an engaging story that brings all of the subplots together in one fresh story. At the end of the story, the reader has to decide whether or not Lenore was a real child or a figment of Daisy’s overactive imagination.
My rating: 4 stars