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A Spool of Blue Thread: Anne Tyler - A Complete Summary

Anne Tyler’s novel, A Spool of Blue Thread, follows the Whitshank family over eras as they live in Baltimore. They are a normal family, though each person can be eccentric in their own ways. The family members love and look after one another, but jealousy, competition, and gossip still surface from time to time.

There are two stories in the Whitshank family that are regularly retold. The main story is that of Junior Whitshank, Red's dad and the founder of Whitshank Construction. He constructed a home for the Brill family, and he put a lot of effort into its design. In his mind, it was his home, and he gave careful consideration to each point of interest. Later, an opportunity emerged for Junior to purchase the house back from the Brills, and he took it. He moved his wife, Linnie Mae Inman Whitshank, and their son and daughter, Red and Merrick, into the house. After Junior and Linnie died in an accident, Red acquired the house, where he now lives with his family. The secondary story is about Red's sister, Merrick. As told by Red, Merrick stole the life partner of her closest companion.

Red Whitshank maintains the family business, Whitshank Construction. His wife, Abby, is a social worker, and together, they have four kids. Their third child, Denny, is a regular source of stress for them, though his visits and phone calls are few. Throughout the years, he gets into trouble, is unable to hold down a job, and is involved in a number of unsuccessful relationships.

In 2012, Abby starts to have episodes where she experiences blackouts, losing her memory of substantial pieces of time. Abby has always been a little bizarre, known for welcoming what her family refers to as her vagrants to eat with them. When Red shows some health problems in that same year, the family begins to stress. He recuperates quickly and goes back to work, though he is never the same. He gets tired quickly and begins throwing things around the house.

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March 11
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