The Sum of Our Sorrows is first and foremost a story of the worst kind of loss – that of a mother, leaving behind with her young daughters. It weaves into the tragedy the kindness of a dear friend, the slow healing of the mind (with and without professional help), the behavioral changes in both children and husband such a loss can create, and redemption. A lot to pack into a book!
Abby, the mother of three daughters and wife to Dalton, is tragically killed in a car accident in northern California. Charlotte, the middle daughter, is in the car and survives but is emotionally and mentally altered by the experience. I was completely drawn to the oldest daughter, Lily, who while suffering the same loss, is told by her father that she must give up her job and her plans for college to stay home and take care of her sisters and him. She acquiesces without quite understanding why her father would ask that of her, and it is clear that none of his daughters truly know him, except from a distance. Lily desperately wants a life of her own and is torn between knowing she has to care for her family and wanting to leave. She realizes that if she leaves her two younger sisters they may not recover from the loss. When her father makes more and more demands of her, treating her as his wife in all but the physical sense and demanding she no longer interact with her friends, her desperation only grows.
Lily’s voice is obviously very strong, as was Charlotte’s, the middle child. I truly felt Lily’s confusion, guilt and sorrow and Charlotte’s continuous rebellion against her family as an outlet for her grief. Her troubles only pile up as time goes on, and Lily is patient when she can’t reach her. Maybe too patient, but Lily is not one to make demands or voice her own opinion except to her closest friends. Willow, the youngest child at twelve, was not as clearly defined. She seemed preternaturally old for her age, and sometimes her voice was so akin to Lily’s that I felt Lily was talking to herself. I would have liked to see her with some normal preteen problems.
Dalton, the father, was so ignorantly overbearing and dismissive of Lily’s needs that I wanted to give him a good shake, so in that sense, the author did a good job creating his character. His dismissal of Kady – Abby’s best friend and now Lily’s confidant – from their lives hinted early on that there was much more to this family than initially apparent. Just when Lily’s life has reached its lowest point, something wonderful happens, but that something only makes things even more difficult for Lily. You have to read the book to find out.
I will say the ending is a little too tidy for me. Life is messy and its struggles are rarely resolved by being tied up in a bow. So I wish the end was not so perfect, although it should please many readers.
This was a good book, one that kept my attention long enough to be riveted by the twists arising from the backstory of Abby’s life and the surprises in Lily’s. For readers who like family dramas with some right turns and a little romance, this will be a pleaser.
About the author (from Amazon)
Lisette Brody was born and raised in the Philadelphia area. She spent ten years in New York City, and now resides in Los Angeles. She’s a multi-genre author of nine novels and one short story collection: Crooked Moon (General/Literary Fiction); Squalor, New Mexico (Coming-of-Age/Literary Fiction); Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! (Women’s Fiction/romantic comedy), The Desert Series: Mystical High; Desert Star; and Drawn Apart (YA paranormal/magical realism), Barrie Hill Reunion (Literary Fiction); Hotel Obscure: A Collection of Short Stories (Literary Fiction), Love, Look Away (Women’s Fiction/romantic comedy), and now The Sum of our Sorrows (Contemporary Fiction.)
You can find her
On Twitter: @lisettebrodey
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrodeyAuthor
And on her author’s website: lisettebrodey.com
You can purchase The Sum of Our Sorrows from Amazon: