John Nickel gave up his musical career to become a bar owner in Memphis, trying to prove to his girlfriend that he could support her and their child. Despite how hard John tried to prove his worth to her, she left for Miami, taking John's child with her.
As John gets used to a life of managing a bar, Fay Taft walks into the bar looking for a place to work. John offers her a job and trouble follows. Fay's father died of a heart attack recently, which brought Fay and her brother Carl to Memphis to stay with their aunt and uncle. Carl becomes a regular at the bar, bringing bad customers with him. Meanwhile Fay is reaching out for a fatherly figure and John is the only prominent male in her life.
This book is very easy to get in to, as all Ann Patchett books seem to be. It was interesting how John, a large black man, surveyed his relationship with Fay, a petite white girl, and what it would look like to others. That being said, I found the ending unsatisfying. Though I suspected things would climax the way they did, nothing much resulted from it which left me wanting something more.
First Line: "A girl walked into the bar."