Groundskeeping by Lee Cole

Groundskeeping by Lee Cole is a debut novel set in Kentucky. Owen is a college graduate living in the basement of his grandfather’s home while trying to hone his writing. He takes a job as a groundskeeper at a local college and meets a young woman who is teaching as a visiting professor on campus. Their attraction is delayed due to her current boyfriend. Owen is allowed to take one free class at the college and signs up for a creative writing course. The Kentucky setting is brought to life by Cole’s illuminating description of the south including his hapless uncle who lives with his grandfather. The cast of characters is broadly developed including Owen’s supervisor, Rando (an unambitious Trump-voting alcoholic), the Uncle who refuses to take down the MAGA sign in his window, and his sympathetic grandfather who endlessly watches old westerns on VHS tapes. Once Owen and Alma start dating, their differences both charge and repel their relationship as her Bosnian background contrasts with his native Kentucky culture. Recommended.

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