From a distance, the Harlans appear to be the perfect Southern family. Wealth and local fame mask the drama and dysfunction swirling through their family line. But as the summer heats up, a flood tide of long hidden secrets surface.
Devastation from a rape followed by the murder of two family members brings three generations of the Harlans together on their pecan plantation in Bay Spring, Alabama. Chief among them is Anniston, who by the time she turned thirteen thought she’d seen it all. But as her heart awakens to the possibility of love, she begins to deal with her loneliness and grief.
This tender coming-of-age tale, inspired by the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13, shows how true healing and hope comes only from God. Though our earthly family can wound and disappoint, our heavenly Father brings freedom to those long held captive through His mercy and grace.
I don’t do an annual list of favorite novels, but if I did then How Sweet the Sound would definitely be on the one for 2014 and it would be somewhere near the top. That’s how much I loved the debut novel from Amy K Sorrells. Anniston is the main character, and it is through her eyes that the events of a 12 month period are revealed. Hers is a narrative with an audible southern drawl and, while I no longer have relatives in southern Alabama, I could hear her speaking in my head with their accent. The description of life in Bay Springs is both beautiful and vivid. It is easy to picture the town, its annual festival, its harbor, and local businesses such as the beauty parlor.
How Sweet the Sound is not a pretty story. How could it be when there is rape, murder, alcoholism and abuse? But it is a hopeful tale. The running themes are of grace, mercy and opportunities for new beginnings. At intervals throughout the novel we hear from Anniston’s aunt, Comfort. This woman has experienced more than any woman should and yet maintains her faith. At times, Comfort is unable to express her pain to anyone other than the Lord, but it is with His help that she is able to face the world. There is one scene, where Comfort learns she is not alone in her struggle, which really spoke to me. Who really knows their neighbor these days? We live behind perfectly created facades that we struggle to maintain and woe to anyone who comes close to smashing through those walls. Young Anniston learns a lot about hope, faith and love during the 12 months of How Sweet the Sound. Through the writing of Amy Sorrells, the reader can as well.
Thank you to David C Cook for my complimentary electronic copy of How Sweet the Sound, which I downloaded from NetGalley. No review was required.
Have you read How Sweet the Sound? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: David C Cook
Publication Date: 01 March 2014
Page Count: 384