This is another recommendation from Will, who proclaimed it to be one of his two favorite books from last year (the other being A Note in the Margin). St. Nacho’s by Z.A. Maxfield is a wonderful book that warms the heart.

Cooper’s been on the run from his past for three years when he finds himself in Santo Ignacio, California. Initially he plans to spend a day or two, staying just long enough to clean up and make some cash before he moves on. He doesn’t like staying anywhere too long because he doesn’t want any attachments.  He quickly gets a job in Nacho’s Bar helping in the kitchen and playing violin for tips.  The locals tell him that Santo Ignacio is  a healing place, a place that’s good for the soul. Of course he doesn’t believe that, although he soon finds himself slowly relaxing, falling for co-worker Shawn and opening up about what he’s running from.  Of course, just when things are looking good, his demons come blazing back when he gets a call from home that has him returning to face what he’s been running from.

St. Nacho’s worked well on so many levels. The characters are nicely complex, especially Cooper with his layers of pain mixed with his deep desire to settle down. The people of Santo Ignacio are great–no judgments, happy to help, quick to do what’s right (too bad this isn’t a real place). Maxfield masterfully paints the town as a place where you could really lose yourself in the friendliness and easy-going-pace. It’s a place that would be wonderful to visit, and an even better place to make a life. Cooper and Shawn are excellent characters. Both are strong, well defined characters that grab hold of you and make you root for them to succeed.  From beginning to end, the book deals with the loss, love and redemption perfectly. I couldn’t have been more pleased.

Will just ordered the sequel, Physical Therapy, and I’m looking forward to reading that soon.

Up Next: Christoper Isherwood’s A Single Man (I loved the movie, so it’s time to read the book.)