How Sweet the Sound / by Amy K. Sorrells. 8.23.2018

Tyndale ISBN 9781496426130

Adult Rating: 5

A storm is brewing over Bay Spring, Alabama and 13-year-old Anniston Harlan finds her family and herself at the very center. She thought she had already survived the worst storm of her life when Hurricane Frederic touched down, destroying a large portion of her family’s pecan orchard a few months ago. Nothing, however, could have prepared her for the tragedy that was soon to strike, changing her life forever. How will she find her way through the darkness and hidden secrets surrounding her family?

Comfort Harlan, Anniston’s aunt, seems to have everything a woman living a life of privilege could want–the looks of a pageant beauty queen and the love of her childhood sweetheart. However, she has always lacked one thing: her mother’s love and approval. Just after the announcement of her upcoming marriage, a violent act steals Comfort’s very will to live, tearing down the protective walls her mind constructed long ago to hide memories too dark to face.

The Harlan family may be at the top of the social ladder, the leading pillars in their southern town, but the glitter of wealth and prestige can only conceal the darkness so long.

Amy K. Sorrells’ novel How Sweet the Sound is not for the faint of heart, addressing incest, rape, and suicide. It is a journey through a dark valley that brings with it a range of emotions from rage to forgiveness, defeat to hope, and sorrow to joy. The story is told through Anniston’s and Comfort’s alternating perspectives. Anniston’s character and point of view help balance the darkness of this tale with her young perspective on life and big heart that reaches to the outcasts and hurting. Comfort’s thoughts and inward battle provide a heartrending glimpse into the life of one who’s innocence has been lost in the most atrocious ways. The reaction of the town to her tragedy mirrors a reality that all too often places the blame and shame on the victim. Overall, as its name rightly attests, this story is truly a picture of amazing grace and its work of sweet healing, redemption, and restoration.

Justina McBride, CLJ