The Train of Small Mercies - David Rowell June of 1968 was a time of great change and turmoil in America. Citizens were divided over the war in Vietnam. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been killed just a couple of months before, and the civil rights movement had to find new footing. Then Bobby Kennedy won the California presidential primary, after which he was shot by Sirhan Sirhan. David Rowell provides a slice out of the lives of six characters and their families on June 8, 1968. Each resides in a different state where Robert Kennedy's funeral train will be passing through on that day. One character is on the train as an employee. Some of the characters are quite ordinary, perhaps too ordinary. They arrange their day around the arrival of the funeral train---squabbling, socializing, and grieving in the meanwhile. One is a Vietnam vet, recently returned home after losing a leg. I found his story to be the most compelling of the six, as he comes to terms with his loss and his family tries to project a cheery outlook for his sake. Rowell's writing style is clear and concise. He brings in a lot of the cultural touchstones of the era, which will have sentimental value for many readers who can remember 1968. The disconnected presentation of the six story lines as the day progresses makes it a little difficult to follow. It does get easier as you continue reading and start to remember who each of the characters is. The book only covers one day in their lives, so the end feels inconclusive with respect to most of the people involved. What I gained from the book was a greater understanding of the collective grief of the nation over the loss of Bobby Kennedy. I knew a lot about John F. Kennedy, but not so much about his brother. I had not been aware of how much hope the black community had placed in Bobby after Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed.