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Reviewed by Molly Garcia for Readers' Favorite
The Last Goodbye of Calvin McLint by David Clair is the heart-warming story of a father and son’s shared passion for old pennies, the ones that you can’t buy anything with anymore, the ones that are battered and unwanted. It begins when the main character, Tom, is a child, out with his father, who is changing pennies in the coin machine. This introduction is beautifully described and sets the scene for the main content, which is based on years later when Tom’s father, Calvin, is in a nursing home with dementia. Tom, who has lost his mother, his wife, and his daughter, is desperate for his father to be lucid enough for him to speak. This is the story of two men who are given a second chance, finding hope when you least expect it, and coping with loss. Although this could be a maudlin story, it uses humor and a nefarious plot by a pharma company to ensure that it has more elements to discover.
David Clair finds an original way to explore the feelings of loss and frustration. His characters feel real, the story is heartfelt, and it is written with sensitivity. I found the different plot lines to follow kept me engaged, including the pharma man who is looking for a cure for dementia at any cost, Tom and his father’s relationship, Tom’s losses, and his budding relationship with a member of staff from the nursing home. Alzheimer’s is a challenging topic to take on, but I felt that Clair describes the impact of this diagnosis from the different perspectives of its characters very well. Clair is a skillful narrator, his descriptions are beautifully written and his characters are believable. I was especially taken with how he built pennies into the storyline and gives them a life of their own. This story is touching, sad at times, but also full of hope. The Last Goodbye of Calvin McLint has found itself a place in my heart, and I will be looking out for Clair's other titles.