In The Sweetest Days, John Hough, Jr., explores a long-running marriage of high school sweethearts, Jackie and Pete. When the story opens, Pete has just published his first novel. Pete and Jackie got to Cape Cod, their hometown, for his first book signing. Complicating matters, Jackie has just been diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis is dire.
As they are getting ready to go to the book signing, they encounter a high school classmate. This encounter will set both Jackie and Pete back. At this point, too, Hough chooses to take readers back and forth in time to give the complete story of Pete and Jackie. Hough returns readers to their high school days and an incident that tears Jackie and Pete apart for some time before they do get back together.
Now, Jackie and Pete have been married a long time. Their only daughter is on her own, so the couple must face a new chapter in their lives. The complicating factors include Jackie’s health and the memories of those days gone by, the incident that scarred their high school days.
Book club members will find plenty of discussion topics in The Sweetest Days. Clearly, one of those topics will be the health of a long marriage and what happens when one partner is diagnosed with a terrible illness. Another topic that will generate discussion is the empty-nest syndrome. What happens to a long-married couple when the chicks have left the nest? Certainly, discussions will also center on how to cope with devastating illness.
John Hough has become a novelist although he comes from a long line of journalists that include his father, grandfather, and great-uncle. Hough has published five novels and three nonfiction books.