Playing The Hand You’re Dealt
Where The Sweet Bird Sings by Ella Joy Olsen is a beautiful contemporary heartfelt novel about loss and the search for identity.
Loss consumes your every waking moment. The loss of a loved one just one year after a previous loss, compounds the feeling of isolation and despair. The question why? is naturally on your lips, along with the desire to retire from the world and hide away. This is the heart of the novel as the lead character feels like they are sinking in a sea of tears. “The sun was rising and setting, and yet what was the purpose?” Life loses its meaning. The reader ‘feels’ the pain as the novel is written in the first person. We sense the despair and also the pressure to return to the land of the living. Life seems to have stopped still on that day in the past, and it is hard to see how to carry on.
The novel is beautifully written. The reader senses there is life, hope and light at the end of the tunnel. “I was at the bottom of a well, darkness surrounding me, but there was light above.”
Juxtapositioned with hope is also a sense of hopelessness. We look to others to fix the problem in our lives but no matter how much they love us, they cannot fix our broken lives. “He wasn’t a hero who could save the day, he was just a man.”
The novel is about a search for identity. We all need to know where we have come from and what are our roots? This search leads to a fascinating delve into the archives as provided by the Mormons. They really do have an amazing wealth of information which makes jaw dropping reading. I was somewhat familiar with this as my own Dad has researched his side of the family and used the Mormons to do so.
We think we know our family members but everyone has their secrets and lies. “Sometimes understanding that everyone has a story means you’re less alone.” Lies told down the years may mean that the truth is deeply buried. Sometimes the truth is hidden to protect but “I wanted the truth to heal rather than sever.”
The novel shows the importance of knowing our genetic make-up. Occasionally we inherit faulty genes with disastrous consequences. “I would search for some indication of the monster living within me.” We feel guilty for our part in the loss. This guilt if unchecked will consume and break us.
There are various relationships portrayed in the novel that touch the readers heart. I loved the relationship with the lead characters grandfather.
There were some very emotional scenes set in the cemetery. I understood the sense of loss and the need to speak to the graves to maintain a sense of contact.
There was the theme of healing – literally and mentally.
I absolutely adored Where The Sweet Bird Sings. It was beautifully written, a marvellous plotline with endearing characters. Although there was grief and a deep sense of loss, there was hope too.
A fabulous read.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.