The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley

The Last Days of Ptolemy GreyAs the The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey opens, we meet Ptolemy Grey, a 91 year man, living in disarray in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles. Ptolemy’s failing mind is garbled, so it’s a little confusing to figure out what is going on– what is real– at first. Reggie, his adult great nephew and the one person that he could depend on, has just died, which further upsets and confuses Ptolemy.

After a series of run-ins with unsavory characters and folks he can’t trust, Ptolemy meets Robin, a beautiful 17 year old family friend.  Robin and Ptolemy quickly bond, as neither has much in this world. They form a relationship based on mutual respect and compassion.  Robin gives Ptolemy protection and brings some much needed light into his life. She also cleans up Ptolemy’s apartment which has spiraled into disarray. This helps to guide his life back on track.

At the center of this novel is an interesting concept:  Ptolemy is offered a chance to have the health of his mind restored but at the cost of having his life cut short. This could be considered a science fiction aspect, but in this day and age it seems that this type of experimental drug may be a possibility. And this concept made me think about what I would do in Ptolemy’s place.

Because of Ptolemy’s dementia, there are many flash backs throughout the story in which we learn more about his history and about the people who have made a lasting impact on his long life. Coydog McCann is one of the characters who Ptolemy often still thinks about even though he died during Ptolemy’s childhood.  I thought it was unique how Coydog continued to be a guiding figure for Ptolemy and a part of the storyline many years after he died.

This is the first book I have read by author, Walter Mosley, known for his Easy Rawlins mystery series, and I was impressed.  I felt the characters were well written and compelling. I had a soft spot for Ptolemy and enjoyed the connection between Robin and Ptolemy Although gritty and heartbreaking at times, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey was an overall intriguing tale with some unique twists and a satisfying conclusion.

Find and reserve this book in the library.

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