The main theme of Emily Gallo’s latest novel ‘The Last Resort’ is kindness. It is a novel which, with great ease has depicted believing fellow humans just for the mere reason of being human ; which we have now lost, for reasons both valid and not.
Dutch, a private person with an extremely kind heart lives in his eighty acres of land in Garberville in the Emerald Triangle with Juniper, the trim mama of the marijuana farm and Homer, a cheerful old man with Parkinson’s disease.
Buster is the first one to arrive with his guitar, being reunited with his fellow blues musician, Dutch – they jam together in the music room, sharing joints and catching up on life. Next arrives Luther, an African American in his thirties, falsely convicted to murder and only recently exonerated, who after spending the last 20 years in prison is too new to the present world. Then comes Scarlett, Juniper’s foster sister who was sucked into a sex slave cult after turning 18; and then there’s Tasha and Leo, a casino dealer & call girl from Vegas and an union organiser.
Some of them running away, some of them running towards and some unable to go anywhere. All of them are taken in shelter by Dutch in exchange of some help. Some help to give shape to Dutch’s big plans that include everyone being together and happily busy for a while.
When all the members settle in and the pace steadies, the fire breaks, they evacuate and re-return. All throughout this, there is a feeling that a major action, something big is awaiting. Only when we encounter each of these unique characters in the farm joining hands and working together so that the fire does not reach them, is when the realisation dawns that what we await is not something supreme or radical, but is rather the subtlety of emotional harmony- the smiles returned, the relief shared.
At times the story feels too magical for everything to fall into place and clicking together whenever something goes wrong. But that may be due to our natural tendency to fill in every hole with anxiety and fear instead of good things. Also, sometimes the conversations and gestures are unnecessarily explained which may be a little uncomfortable.
Initially, Luther’s story of long and hard earned justice was what drew me into the novel and then there was no turning back.
Every character in the novel have their own vast and much more thrilling histories which could have been turned into a novel each,but instead, their rescue and time together has been well knitted in this novel. Juniper’s admiring capabilities to keep everything under control and Homer’s knowledge of every possible aspect of life have further brought all of them together. Though not residing in the farm, the presence of Jed, Monica, Gordon was very necessary for establishing the amicability.
‘The Last Resort’, perfectly named, is an extremely soothing and feel good novel, trying to restore some of the key features of humanity. It is written in very easy language and can be completed in a day or two but is also perfect if you prefer reading a page per day. It never loses its effect and cascades over with happiness to be shared, life lessons to be learnt and at the end, “we all got our second chances”.