A Spool of Blue Thread had been on my bookshelf for a while, and I finally picked it up and read it. It’s the story of a family, an extended family, a blended family, generations of one family. It’s also the story of a house. A beautiful old house, in the city of Baltimore, at once coveted, once loved, and once empty. Red and Abby Whitshank shared the home with their children, it was a home that Red’s father had bought when he was a child when the house was still relatively new. Red and Abby met in 1959, eventually married, and took over the house that once been his father’s. They stayed there until their own children were grown, children who don’t seem as connected to the house in a way that their parents and grandparents were.
I loved the story of the house, and have always dreamed of buying and fixing and filling one up just like it. There are bedrooms filled with the children of Red’s parents, his brothers and sisters. He eventually fills those bedrooms with his own children. The story of Red’s father is one of the most interesting parts of the book, including how he bought this incredible house. After finally buying the home of his dreams, he intends to keept it. What’s interesting is that, with Baltimore as the setting, the city and neighborhood is unchanged despite the time that passes between these generations.
Abby was a social worker, and was very nurturing, and sometimes seemed a little too nurturing. She always seemed part Mom, part therapist, and was always doting, always worrying. Of her four children, Denny is the most troublesome. He is that one family member that everyone seems to worry about – throughout his life he is wayward. He was a problem child, never staying with someone or something for very long. As an adult he is flighty, hard to keep in touch with. There is someone like this in my life, and it is so hard to maintain a relationship. And I think, how selfish, that this person only shows up in my life when they feel like it, a relationship that is completely one-sided. And that’s Denny.
As Abby and Red age, more truths about the family are revealed. Denny and his two sisters have a younger brother. There’s a shocking reveal about their brother near the end of the book. It’s a surprise to the reader, but something the knew their whole lives. It’s near the end of the book that this becomes a pivotal point, almost pitting Denny and his brother against each other.
I really loved this story, and even though I wanted to hate Denny for all that he put his parents through, I liked the character. The title comes from something he discovered his mother’s sewing box. He felt like it was a sign from her, something she left there for him. It’s such a poignant, heartfelt moment for him, and almost redeems him for all that he put them all through. I loved it!