BWW Reviews: LET IT BE by Chad Gayle

I've been a Beatles fan since that Sunday night in February, 1964, when they changed the world on The Ed Sullivan Show. Actually, I was a fan before then, because I'd been waiting weeks to see them perform live, even if it was only on a small, black & white TV at my grandmother's house. It would be a couple more years before I saw them in person.

So I was intrigued by the premise of Chad Gayle's Let It Be, which shares a title with the last album released by the Fab Four.

A woman who has suffered years of abuse has found the courage to divorce, taking her two kids with her to Amarillo to begin a new life. She takes a low-level job and prays her ex-husband will stop harassing her. And during that hot summer, when folks cooled off with an icy Tab while watching "The Love Boat", she manages to find a little hope.

Let It Be is Michelle's favorite album, and how the men in her life relate to it - and her - shapes this sometimes sweet, sometimes painful story

Letting it be is something that does not come naturally for the characters in this book. More than one refuses to back down emotionally or physically. And that leads to a tragedy that no one could've foreseen: a tragedy that changes everyone forever.

Gayle tells the story from different points of view, so that the reader can understand the faults and strengths of each character. Only the daughter gets short shrift; she always seems to be off with a girlfriend or just being a typical, whiny teenager.

This is a book with a soundtrack that plays in the background: not just those that name each chapter ("Across the Universe", "One After 909", "Get Back", "I Me Mine") but the songs playing on the car radio in Amarillo, Texas, the setting of this lovely first novel: "Jackie Blue", "You're So Vain", "Rocket Man".

Gayle skillfully evokes time and place, not just through the music you find yourself humming as you read, but the little things that make you feel you're part of their world in 1979: a teenager wearing a KISS t-shirt, Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley.

I found myself emotionally invested in the characters. I cared what happened to them (though I did wish harm would come to one or two). It was not the ending I'd hoped for, but it made sense. It just made me long for an ending where they would've all just let it be.

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Victoria Noe has been a writer most of her life, but didn’t admit it until 2009. After earning a Masters from the University of Iowa (read more...)

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