Photos can represent good, bad memories

The picture reminds you of a thousand things.

You recall the day it was taken: the smell of the air, the background sounds, food and drink, laughter and the sense that this was forever. You’ve seen that photo many times throughout the years, but it never fails to remind you of the best of times. Or, as in the new book “Tin Man” by Sarah Winman, it may represent the worst.

Ellis Judd rarely thought of reading anymore, though there were books piled around his apartment. They were Annie’s, so he ignored them. He mostly ignored the picture sitting among them, too, and he tried not to think about the people in it.

But, of course, that was impossible; his face was one of the three in the photograph. And there was Annie, his wife and the love of his life, five years dead from an automobile accident. And Michael, his best childhood friend.

He’d never forget the day he and Michael met: Ellis was visiting Mabel, an older woman and the local greengrocer, when Michael arrived to stay. Both twelve years old, they’d become on-the-spot friends. Years later, Michael was the reason Ellis met Annie, and she instantly loved him, too. Ellis was glad for it.

But then, not too long after Annie and Ellis were married, Michael seemed to disappear and Annie pestered Ellis on and off. Didn’t he wonder where Michael had gone? Didn’t he want him back in his life? Didn’t Ellis miss his best friend?

He did – and one day, Michael walked back in, as if nothing had happened and things seemed to pick up where they left off. Ellis was content again with his day-to-day until the car accident, and his entire world died.

It took awhile to heal – as if that would ever fully happen – but his losses made distant memories keener and Ellis began thinking about a painting that his mother and Michael had particularly loved. Having it would mean a lot so, knowing that it was stored in his father’s attic, Ellis fetched it.

That’s when he found a boxful of Michael’s things, including a notebook…

There are a thousand emotions that you’ll feel when you read “Tin Man,” starting with a melancholy sense of foreboding. Don’t beat yourself up for it, though. Every character here has reason to feel that life is no good.

That alone might make you not want to read this book – why try something when you know it’s going to depress you, right? Wrong: author Sarah Winman also repeatedly offers a most persistent flame of hope in her story, from Ellis’ mother, who finds beauty in a booby-prize painting; to Annie, who happily understands Michael’s needs; and Ellis himself, who learns again what he already knew.

Truth be known, readers will know it, too, long before they get to the pinnacle of this book – but the love-story-not-love-story that pulses to the lingering end is worth the journey, times two. And that makes “Tin Man” a book you should picture yourself reading.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Life

Highline student finds her voice

Umoja Black Scholars Program enhances the cultural and educational experiences of African-American students.

Multi-Service Center raises $156,000 at annual Crab Feed

Federal Way’s Multi-Service Center raised funds to support its programs at its annual Crab Feed on June 1.

Drive-thru Salmon Bake nets more than $15K

Last week’s take-away Salmon Bake fundraiser, hosted by the Kiwanis Club of… Continue reading

Washington State Fair cancelled

COVID-19 outbreak claims another event

Longtime South King Fire volunteer Bill Brand dies at 90

Federal Way resident Bill Brand was a volunteer battalion chief during his time with the department in the 1970s.

Historical Society of Federal Way offers virtual tour of WWII history exhibit

The Historical Society is also asking for community members to submit their stories of the pandemic.

TLG Motion Pictures CEO Erik Bernard and TLG founder Courtney LeMarco on a set. Photo courtesy TLG Motion Pictures.
Local production company seeking film, TV pitches from young minority creatives

The Big Pitch competition, put on by TLG Motion Pictures (“Hoarders”), started about six months ago.

Relay for Life of South King County moves online

American Cancer Society donations to be taken during May 30 virtual gathering

Federal Way resident organizes “pick-me-up” parade for senior communities

Alder Ridge Senior Apartments and Mill Ridge Village were visited by more than 100 people May 2.

Hometown Hero for April: Longtime resident supports local businesses, families in need through one-eyed selfies

Bruce Honda promotes Federal Way’s local businesses, coordinating with Communities in Schools to help families in need during COVID-19 pandemic.

Auburn Symphony Orchestra announces 2020-21 season

Begins with Summer Series scheduled to start June 21

Medic One Foundation’s Gratitude Meals offer support to first responders, local businesses

The initiative provides hearty lunches to first responders staffing the COVID-19 testing sites as they work to test their colleagues.