Molly Bremer, like any other woman on her wedding day, does not expect to become a single mother. However, that is her fate during the trying times of World War II.
A high school romance, rooted mostly in hormones, fades. Three children and a tight budget make for difficult times. An insecure husband, with growing dependency on alcohol, turns to abuse and then abandons the family.
Molly Bremer is alone in Little Rock.
To aggravate her stark new condition in life, her spouse takes their oldest son with him on his way out of town. Her life and her family are disintegrating in staggering quickness.
Molly’s struggles during that awful year of 1942 are overwhelming. The weeks and months are like a prison sentence for her, locked on the absence of Peter, her son, and frustrated that she is giving insufficient attention to Hattie and Bobby.
But like most single moms, she manages. She has little choice. But it isn’t easy.
Then Christmas arrives early. Peter returns home.
But life’s trials seem to be a relentless saga for Molly Bremer. Her sons follow wayward paths as they grow into manhood. Peter is seduced by avarice and falls in love with money and success, while Bobby, the youngest, bows to his churlish nature and ends up with a life in prison.
Peter’s trip with vanity wends its way from Arkansas, St. Louis and finally to Cedar Rapids where he is crowned the king, president of a new cattle slaughtering company that is ready to duke it out with America’s Big Four meat packers. Ambition collides with reality. His desire for a fast buck runs into the deliberate constrict of mob business.
Meanwhile, Bobby’s inability to suppress an impulsive and dour personality heaps unending distress on his mother. He eventually becomes a permanent resident of the Kansas State Penitentiary, the final sentence for murder.
Ironically, along their errant paths and aberrant lifestyles, both men marry strong women. But like Molly, these women were unable to bring permanent change to the dark side of their husbands -- Peter and Bobby Bremer.
The two brothers and their mother are the focal point of the novel by Cedar Rapids author Dale Kueter. It is his second fiction book. The first, "Motel Sepia", is a story based on a real motel of the same name operated by a Black Cedar Rapids couple in the 1950s.
"Ma Bremer’s Boys" illustrates how trying life can be for a single mother. It is difficult to walk in another person’s shoes, whether it is to experience the ecstasy of good fortune or the hardships of defeat. And while Molly Bremer’s role as a single mother may be unusual, it casts insight on the challenges of being a single parent.
Yet Molly, like all mothers, never surrenders her love and dedication for her children.
She is a constant fixture in the tumultuous lives of her sons, standing by them from the starkness of prison to the darkness of the unknown.
What else can a mother do?