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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Song of Renewal by Emily Sue Harvey

Song of Renewal by Emily Sue Harvey
Publisher: The Story Plant
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (293 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Camellia

The Wakefields seem to have everything. Garrison is a hugely successful graphic artist. Liza is an active member of the community and a patron of the arts. Their 16-year-old daughter Angel is bright, beautiful, and a gifted dancer. At the same time, though, they have traded away many of their dreams. Garrison gave up a future as an accomplished painter to make money. Liza suspended her own dancing career to raise a family. And Angel is setting aside her ambitions to live her mother’s dream.

When Angel gets into a car accident that kills her first love, the Wakefields’ lives turn on a dime. While Angel lies in a coma from which even the best prognosis is devastating, Garrison and Liza sit by her side, their once-passionate marriage in tatters. As their heartache over Angel builds, Garrison and Liza struggle to rediscover who they once were—and who they were meant to be. They come to realize that it will take everything they have within themselves to heal Angel, heal their hearts, and renew the power of their love.

Guilt, the inability to forgive, and hope are strong elements that influence much of the action in Song of Renewal.

Two intelligent, talented, beautiful people find each other and a “soul mate” kind of love. Liza and Garrison Wakefield’s insatiable love for each other creates their precious child Angel. Theirs is a special family, but the mundane demands press in. Subtle changes creep into their lives. Both Liza and Garrison give up a part of themselves for what they believe to be the greater good. Liza gives up ballet, her great love and talent, while Garrison gives up his art, his great love and talent. Both denied themselves the very thing that nurtured their inner beings.

In Garrison’s drive to make money in order to maintain their life style, he becomes absorbed in work. He distances himself from Angel and Liza just the way his parents had distanced themselves from him, something he vowed he would never do. The price he pays for this shatters his world. How he copes with the devastation pulls the reader into a maelstrom of emotions that crash and bang through Garrison’s heart and soul.

Liza, determined to never abandon Angel like her mother had abandoned her, becomes a stay-home mom and an overbearing backstage mother. She fails to see that Angel hates ballet even though she works hard to please her mother. Liza is unaware she lives through her daughter and she looks to Garrison to take care of their material needs never noticing the strain he is in. Neither of them nurtures their love for each other that has curled up deep inside starving for attention.

Angel’s tragedy is the catalyst that sets this emotional, introspective, heartbreaking story in motion. The guilt and inability to forgive hampers their struggle to reconnect with the inner self, with faith, with each other. Song of Renewal touches emotions that range from the darkest to the brightest.

The secondary characters create stories of their own as they support Liza, Garrison and Angel. Penny, Angel’s true friend who stays through thick and thin, adds sparkle to often dark times. Troy, with a special love and situation, gives Angel incredible support and spiritual courage with such great love—makes the heart sing.

Liza’s sister Charlcy is that pillar of strength that protected Liza as a child and gives her unconditional love as an adult. Outspoken, unforgiving, and fighting her own demons, Charlcy’s has a special story all her own, that adds a poignant dimension to the theme of ‘renewal’ that is a strong, ever-present thread throughout the story.

Emily Sue Harvey takes the reader on a remarkable journey into the hearts and souls of very caring characters that struggle with coming to terms with their flaws, with repentance, with forgiving, and acceptance. The characters’ hard won happiness shines with love, making Song of Renewal a beacon of hope—a compelling story.