Frances Ellerby

The main character and narrator of the novel, Frances is a mild-tempered and detailed storyteller. Throughout the story she works at a bank to help provide for her family, supports her husband in career changes, and is loving and respectful to her daughter. She is a solid, well-grounded character who acts as a good vehicle to recount historical events in Miami, in addition to the impact that terminal illness can have on a family. Her struggle with her husband's ALS gives the reader a glimpse into the heartbreak and exhaustion that accompany such a trial. Though not easily flustered, Frances does struggle with temptation in her marriage, insecurity about her daughter's love for her, and stressful anxiety over her son-in-law. Through all of her trials, she shows strength of character and a fortitude that pulls her through.

Dennis DuVal

Throughout the book, Dennis is a loving, patient man who is consistently loyal to his wife and a good friend and confidant to his daughter. He works as a lawyer, but struggles to find meaning in his job; rather, he enjoys his family life, and the history of his heritage that exists at the stilt house that his family owns. Dennis is a laid-back, pleasant man who takes things in stride. When diagnosed with terminal ALS, Dennis suffers through the disease with remarkable optimism and even joy; his character is an example of how the power of the mind can overcome any physical debilitations, even bringing joy into one's existence.

Marse Heiger

Marse is the woman who introduced Dennis and Frances; throughout most of the story, she remains single. She is an active, attractive woman who remains in Frances's and Dennis's lives, even playing the role of aunt and friend to their daughter, Margo. During Dennis's struggle with ALS, Marse helps the family out every day, giving support and practical tools that make Frances's life easier. Near the end...

(The entire section is 803 words.)