“Movingly written and plotted with the skill of Greek tragedy. You’ll keep turning the pages until the last racking sob.”



The sun shone through the palm trees, gloriously warm on my New England winter-pale skin. The on-shore breeze stirred the palms into a rustle and their shadows danced over the surface of the pool. In the background the constant surge and swish of the ocean sang and the pelicans dove in the surf.

Sitting by the pool in Puerto Rico, I surreptitiously wiped tears from my cheeks, and my heart ached. Slowly I closed the book I had just finished reading, setting it gingerly on my blue and white striped beach towel.

I had to get up. I had to move. Something felt cracked or bruised inside of me. I walked over to the edge of the patio and stared blindly out into the brilliant turquoise of the Caribbean Sea.

I was bereft. I wanted to throw my head back and howl into the tropical wind. To ululate. To keen. To wail with grief. I fought to stifle the sobs welling within me. How? How can people be capable of such atrocity? How can people be capable of such bravery? How is it that the worst in man can inspire the best? And, oh sweet Lord, how can humans be so incredibly resilient?

Two days ago I wrote about books and how they have impacted my life through the years. Stephen King believes that writing is telepathy. In On Writing he wrote that “All the arts depend upon telepathy to some degree, but I believe that writing offers the purest distillation.” On the morning I described, I hadn’t been in Puerto Rico, I’d been moving through war-torn Europe, witnessing the heights and depths of humanity, transported through space and time by the pages of my book. There is surely magic in the ability of an author to craft words about the horrors of war and the triumphs of individuals into a reading experience that sent tears streaming down my cheeks in the tropical sun and simply put, overwhelmed me.

After some time spent staring at the ocean, struggling to regain my equilibrium, I stuffed those feelings deep within me, incapable of fully wrestling with them, at this time, in this setting. But before returning to the sun and the surf, I bowed my head, bearing witness to the past and acknowledging the power of Kristin Hannah and the written word.


Reviewed by:

Molly Hogan

Added 27th March 2016