From the author of A Little Hope—a Read with Jenna Bonus Pick—comes an enormously powerful and life-affirming novel about three individuals whose lives intersect in unforeseen ways.
Set in a close-knit Pennsylvania suburb in the grip of winter, A Quiet Life follows three people grappling with loss and finding a tender wisdom in their grief.
Chuck Ayers used to look forward to nothing so much as his annual trip to Hilton Head with his wife, Cat—that yearly taste of relaxation they’d become accustomed to in retirement, after a lifetime of working and raising two children. Now, just months after Cat’s death, Chuck finds that he can’t let go of her things—her favorite towel, the sketchbooks in her desk drawer—as he struggles to pack for a trip he can’t imagine taking without her.
Ella Burke delivers morning newspapers and works at a bridal shop to fill her days while she anxiously awaits news—any piece of information—about her missing daughter. Ella adjusts to life in a new apartment and answers every call on her phone, hoping her daughter will reach out one day.
After the sudden death of her father, Kirsten Bonato set aside her veterinary school aspirations, finding comfort in the steady routine of working at an animal shelter. But as time passes, old dreams and new romantic interests begin to surface—and Kirsten finds herself at another crossroads.
In this beautifully crafted and profoundly moving novel, three parallel narratives converge in poignant and unexpected ways, as each character bravely presses onward, trying to recover something they have lost. Emotionally riveting and infused with hope, A Quiet Life celebrates humanity in the midst of uncertainty.
Ethan Joella teaches English and psychology at the University of Delaware and specializes in community writing workshops. His work has appeared in River Teeth, The Cimarron Review, The MacGuffin, Delaware Beach Life, and Third Wednesday. He is the author of A Little Hope, which was a Read with Jenna Bonus Selection and A Quiet Life. He lives in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, with his wife and two daughters.
Praise for A Quiet Life
"Community and grief are at the center of this tender novel in which three residents of a tightly knit Pennsylvania suburb are each grappling with losing loved ones when their lives begin to converge in unexpected ways." —The New York Times Book Review
"Joella develops his characters with enormous empathy... The pleasure of discovering connections is one of the most basic joys of reading and is key to Joella's storytelling.... The soothing tone and warm worldview of this grown-up bedtime story will be good for what ails you." —Kirkus
"Heartwarming, character-driven charm. Empathetic without becoming saccharine, A Quiet Life highlights the power of closure and the importance of a connected, compassionate community.” —Booklist
"A Quiet Life is filled with people I’d like to meet. Ethan Joella’s latest novel reminds us that life is made of journeys, not only destinations. Read this one slowly; you’ll want to savor the details." —Charmaine Wilkerson, author of Black Cake
"A Quiet Life shines with the courage and heart of its characters. Through elegant prose, this powerful book reminds us that in grief and loss we stand united in the love, resilience, and connection that define our humanity. Readers will emerge from these intersecting stories transformed, hopeful, and inspired." —Qian Julie Wang, author of Beautiful Country
“I adored A Quiet Life. Soft as silk, powerful as a punch, Ethan Joella doesn't shirk from the trauma of grief but delivers real hope in our capacity to survive. A beautifully written page-turner like this one is hard to find." —Nikki May, author of Wahala
"A Quiet Life is about the transformative power of connection if we are willing to risk opening our hearts. Joella’s characters help each other shoulder the burden of grief and unearth the shards of beauty to be found in the wreckage of loss. There is magic at the intersection of these stories, a rare and addicting alchemy of ordinary moments and choices that add up to whole, brave, flawed, joyful lives. This novel insists on our essential strength, resilience, and empathy in an age of isolation." —Katie Runde, author of The Shore