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Welcome to Cedar Hole - a town where mediocrity reigns supreme thanks to a dreary climate, a defunct railroad, and citizens who are held captive by apathy and paranoia. Among them: an elementary school teacher who would rather drink gin and read True Detective magazine rather than teach; a librarian keenly aware of everyone’s shortcomings except her own; a self-important police officer with nothing to do; an ostracized widow bent on revenge. And then there’s Francis Pinkham, the youngest and only boy of ten children, whose family epitomizes everything that’s wrong with the community.

From the moment of his unwelcome arrival, Francis knows his path in life will be a rocky one. Largely ignored by his exhausted parents and the favorite whipping boy of his nine sisters, Francis expects nothing from the world and even less from himself. That is, until he meets Robert Cutler, a cheerful, enigmatic boy who - against all odds - seems destined to rise above his meager surroundings. With blind optimism and unshakable faith, Robert gracefully steps into the role of Cedar Hole’s good-hearted visionary, dazzling everyone around him. Early on, however, Francis discovers that Robert may not be the saint everyone imagines him to be. When a competition forces a rivalry between the boys that follows them into adulthood, Francis struggles to step out from beneath Robert’s shadow. It is only through love, starting a family of his own, and an unexpected brush with the American dream that Francis discovers his own true worth.

Seamlessly blending wit and humor with tenderness, this tremendous debut offers a lasting consideration of the nature of forgiveness, the frailty of human connection, and what it means to be great. With its small–town setting, unforgettable characters, and graceful wisdom, The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole is at once contemporary and timeless.

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