The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens


Joe Talbert is a College student with an assignment.  He must interview a stranger and write a biography of that person’s life.  Having procrastinated on getting started mainly due to his college work load, a mother with a lack of parenting skills, and an older brother at home 2 1/2 hours from Joe’s college who is autistic, Joe decides to go to a local nursing home to see if he can talk to someone who has led an interesting life.  What Joe discovers is more than he could have planned.

Carl Iverson has been given only a few months to live as he is losing the battle of prostate cancer.  He is a Vietnam Vet with the Purple Heart award.  He is also a convicted murdered.  He has been medically paroled to the nursing home to spend his last days under constant care that the prison can not provide.

As Joe digs into Carl’s story, he struggles with the hero Carl was in the war and the cold-blooded killer of a 14-year-old girl that he is convicted for.  Carl eludes to his innocence, but with no real passion after all his life is practically over and what is done is done. Joe feels there is something missing in Carl’s conviction, vital evidence that was overlooked that could possibly clear Carl’s name before he dies.  Yet the clock is running against Joe as he juggles his school work load, his job, and his mother’s inability to take proper care of his brother.  Thank goodness for the female College student who has the apartment next to Joe’s and her interest in helping to uncover the truth.

But at what cost?



Funny background story to this book.  It was first put on my radar last fall after Wine and Words when my co-chair suggested this author for Wine and Words 2016.  Neither of us had read the book or heard much about it so that thought was back-burnered.   In the last few months I looked for the book in my personal library, swore I had a copy but could not find it so again…. I moved on.  Then last month a girl in our book club brought the title up for nomination out of the blue.  The book won the vote and I was thrilled to finally have my hand forced to move forward on reading the book.  I bought the book…

and there it sat.

Last week a friend of mine in another local book club text me and asked if I had a copy of The Life We Buried because that is what their book club was reading for February.  I called her and told her I had to know how they picked that title.  She said the lady hosting in February had found it and thought it sounded good.  I laughed and told her that our book club was also reading this same title.

A couple of days ago I was feeling tired and went early to my room with this book.  I planned to read only a few chapters to get a feel for it.  Once I opened the book the story line clicked for me.  The reading was easy to get into and I found myself liking it right from the very start.  I read for hours, slept, opened the book again the next morning and finished it.

In a word.


Allen Eskens had a way of capturing Joe’s voice in this book. The addition of what his family/home life was like was brilliant.  It was an excellent way to see how Joe struggled trying to move forward with his own life and at the same time carrying around the guilt of what his brother had to deal with back in his home town 2 1/2 hours away.

There are not many books in the last year that I can say I fell in love with right from the start, but this one earned that statement.  I highly encourage you give this title a try.  My Co-Chair of Wine and Words is listening to it on audio now.  My book club will review it this coming Tuesday evening and on Wednesday I will pass the book to my friend in the other book club so she may read it as well.

Now that…

is a fun story.



  • Paperback: 303 pages
  • Publisher: Seventh Street Books; First Paperback Edition edition (October 14, 2014)




12 thoughts on “The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

  1. That is funny how often you were tripping over the book. I think it was determined for you to read it. This one sounds really interesting and a little darker than what I usually read which isn’t a bad thing. I’ve been trying to take baby steps out of my comfort zone and this one looks fascinating and compelling.

  2. I wondered why this book sounded so familiar to me – My book group just chose it, too! Seems to be a popular choice right now which is funny because I’d never heard of it before.

    After reading your review, I can’t wait to read it myself now!


    Book By Book

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