Book Review: How Sweet The Sound

30 Oct

Wealth and etiquette can hide a lot of things in the South, as the esteemed Harlan family of sleepy Bay Spring, Alabama, knows. But behind the gentle facade of white pillared porches and acres of cultivated pecan orchards, family secrets smolder.

Young Anniston Harlan cares little for high society and the rigid rules and expectations of her grandmother, Princella. She finds solace working the orchards alongside her father and grandfather, and relief in the cool waters of Mobile Bay.

Anniston’s aunt, Comfort Harlan, has never quite lived up to the family name, or so her mother Princella’s ever-apparent scowl implies. When she gleefully accepts the proposal of her longtime boyfriend, Solly, a flood tide of tragedy ensues that strips Comfort of her innocence and unleashes generations of family secrets, changing the Harlan family forever.

While Comfort struggles to recover, Anniston discovers an unlikely new friend from the seedy part of town who helps her try to make sense of the chaos. Together, they and the whole town of Bay Spring discover how true love is a risk, but one worth taking.

Amy Sorrells is an award-winning author and occasional poet writing words of hope for a hurting world. Amy got her start in journalism, has written for medical publications, and enjoyed a three year stint as a weekly op-ed columnist for her town newspaper. A graduate of DePauw University, Amy lives with her husband and three sons in central Indiana.

 

My Impressions:

I am leading a weekly Bible study called Faith And Fiction. My group studies a story in the Bible and an accompanying novel that is a re-telling or is inspired by the scripture. While it was easy to find novel from the Biblical fiction genre, I wanted to include a variety of genres to show how scripture is timeless and to give those in the study a wide variety of reading experiences. I hit a home run when I chose How Sweet The Sound by Amy Sorrells. While not a strict re-telling of 2 Samuel 13, it was inspired by the heart-breaking events that took place between Tamar, Amnon, and Absalom. If you are not familiar with this tragic time in David’s family, then get out your Bible and dig in. Then get Sorrells novel. It provides a different slant — one with the hope that God can give to the crushed and broken-hearted.

How Sweet The Sound is set in a small South Alabama town; a town where everyone knows everybody and their business. But not always their secrets. The Harlans are a leading family with a very prosperous pecan business and a matriarch, Princella, who rules her family and the social scene of Bay Spring. But a family tragedy that cannot be hushed up explodes, with tragic consequences.

How Sweet The Sound is told from two different first person points of view — young teenager, Anniston, who is trying to make sense out of the tragic circumstances of her life and Comfort, a young woman whose voice remains silent to almost everyone around her. The two characters are instrumental in describing the true nature of the other characters and their relationships. The shocking topics of incest and sexual abuse are explored in an honest, yet careful way. Nothing is sensationalized, but truths are exposed to the light of day. While most of the story revolves around the Harlan family, I loved how Sorrells revealed the abusive stories of others in Bay Spring. Beautifully written, the novel is hard to read because of the topic, but also wonderful to read as it develops the hope that God promises to those who most need it. That was what our group liked most. The Biblical record of Tamar’s tragic life left us unsatisfied. Yet Sorrells’ novel showed that even in the depths of depression, despair, and desolation, God’s power shines through. It is was our hope that Tamar also was able to communicate with her Abba.

While the novel revolves around an uncomfortable and weighty subject, it was a wonderful reading experience. How Sweet The Sound was first published in 2014, but has been re-released this Fall.  It is an amazing debut from an accomplished author. I am looking forward to reading the other books by Sorrells that are available.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(I purchased this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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7 Responses to “Book Review: How Sweet The Sound”

  1. Paula Shreckhise October 30, 2017 at 8:16 am #

    Sounds very interesting and a new and different slant on a touchy subject. Will look for it.

    Like

    • rbclibrary October 30, 2017 at 9:30 am #

      I think you’ll like it.

      Like

  2. Carrie October 30, 2017 at 4:12 pm #

    Your review makes me even more excited to read this one! I was already hooked by the cover

    Like

    • rbclibrary October 30, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

      Yay!! I like the new cover but I liked the old one too. Praying for your family, dear Carrie.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Carrie November 5, 2017 at 10:28 am #

        Thank you, sweet friend!

        Like

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