A First Reads Goodreads giveaway of Karen White’s The Sound of Glass was the latest ARC (uncorrected proof) this pedometer geek read. This was the first exposure to her writing that I had, but I doubt it will be the last. Looking over the list of books she has already written, there may be a few that I will be adding to the to-read list, but I digress. Here is the extended review.
The Sound of Glass
By Karen White
Published by New American Library, 2015
A division of the Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Karen White’s The Sound of Glass is classified as women’s fiction, but it has some heavy material in it to which anyone could relate. It is not chick-lit fluffy (don’t get me wrong…I love fluffy chick-lit, but…) and even begins with a plane crash; however, having said that, there are moments of lightheartedness contained within the pages that lighten the mood of the opening pages.
First, the cover is gorgeous with the hanging wind chime of sea glass pieces in blue, green, and white in the foreground and water and a sailboat in the background. The eye is definitely drawn to the sea glass. For those unfamiliar to the term, sea glass is glass from bottles and jars that have been tumbled by water, wave, and wind through the ocean until it is deposited on the shore and collected. Through this buffeting of the seas, the glass becomes scratched and hardened. Using this as a metaphor, this about sums up the metamorphosis of the main character, Merritt Heywood.
As the back cover indicates, two years after the death of her husband Cal, Merritt Heyward receives unexpected news that she has inherited Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina. It was bequeathed to her by his reclusive grandmother, Edith.
Leaving behind her uncertain life in Maine, she travels to South Carolina for a fresh start. It is her desire to be alone, to be unencumbered, to be a recluse, but life has a way of not turning out the way it is planned.
The day she arrives in Beaufort coincides with the arrival of her too young stepmother, Loralee, and her ten-year-old stepbrother, Owen, from Georgia. Her father has died previously, and for various reasons, Loralee and Merritt have never spent much time together. Nor has she ever met her half-brother.
Having moved in lock, stock, and barrel, Loralee has plans to stay, but Merritt thinks otherwise. In fact, she is adamant about being alone to deal with her guilt over the loss of her husband. Loralee’s agenda, though, rules the day, and Merritt begrudgingly agrees to a few days. But a few days becomes more.
Meeting Cal’s younger brother Gibbes is another visitor she’d rather not have, but then he shows up. He comes, not to contest the will, but to clear out anything of his from the house. Merritt is willing to let him have whatever he wants just to get rid of him, but he keeps returning. In so doing, their lives become entwined in ways neither could ever imagine.
Slowly, day by day, despite Merritt’s reticence, Owen, Loralee, Gibbes, and others work to forge a connection with her. Originally, they are all strangers, but with enough time, transformation is possible even under unusual circumstances. The house, too, weaves a magic over her as she discovers secrets and mysteries that are over fifty years old.
The story is told from the perspective of three characters: Merritt, Loralee, and Edith. This novel has true-to-life characters with issues of consequence. Even the subject of nature versus nurture plays a part.
Loralee, especially, is a character the reader grows to love. Her superficial appearance is not all that she is, and she may have a great deal to do with Merritt’s transformation. With Loralee’s help and her Journal of Truths, Merritt might just become the woman she should be even if she does it kicking, screaming, and complaining all the way. Loralee’s Journal of Truths show how deeply her thoughts and feelings are, and this reader looked forward to reading them throughout the novel. Some were of consequence; others were silly, but on the whole, many life lessons could be drawn from them and are worth remembering long after the story ends. A couple of examples: Sometimes bravery can be just another face of desperation. Never give a lady a tube of lipstick without a mirror.
This well-written novel is a wonderful read if only to discover more of Loralee’s philosophical (and not-so-philosophical) truths; however, there is so much more to this story than that as Merritt, Owen, Gibbes, and Loralee navigate the past and present to arrive at a new reality for them all. This book is highly recommended, and this reader feels fortunate to have discovered a new author in the process.