Jolene and Verna share complicated ties that have crystallized over time. Beginning when they were girls discovering their needs and desires, their ongoing stories have been inextricably linked. But when Verna marries Vincent, Jolene's ex-husband, their paths may have finally, permanently diverged. Then Jolene asks one more favor of Verna—to take a road trip with her to their small hometown in Utah. It's a journey that will force them to confront both the truths and falsehoods of their memories of each other
In clear, melodic prose, [Freeman] examines one friendship and two very different lives ... Freeman delves here into the complexities of friendship: the powerful charm of the reckless ally; the way two people can be pulled toward each other yet struggle to interact; the tie that remains even after a friend moves away ... Freeman asks us to consider the value of a quiet life, the beatitudes of deep connection, but also the pitfalls of putting others first. Can satisfaction be found in the quiet stillness? Is an artist’s life more fulfilling? Freeman resists the idea of either stereotype being true ... What Freeman does throughout MacArthur Park: drill into the core of a hard, long-standing friendship. It’s the kind of match you know isn’t perfect, but you crave it anyway, if only as a living form of nostalgia. Why do we remain connected to friends who hurt us or misunderstand us? Freeman’s been there also, and she writes beautifully from that uneasy space.
This is an erudite, meandering novel, with many detours off the plot path. Part of Verna’s growth in L.A. includes her blossoming into an intellectual, so there are plenty of references to great works of literature. Recommended for libraries in literary-minded communities.