Review: Song of Renewal" by Emily Sue Harvey

Reviewer: Stephanie

Blurb: 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.

At once romantic, inspiring, and empowering, Song of Renewal is a rare bauble of a novel, one with something to say to every family.

Review: The premise of this book had so much potential. Even the blurb was heartbreaking. But the blurb is pretty much the best thing that happened.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to enjoy Song of Renewal. Honestly, it wasn’t. But the character development was so weak, that it sort of happened on its own.

Angel in the story, who the reader doesn’t really get to know since she is comatose for the majority of it, is under the impression that her father doesn’t love her. Emily Sue Harvey tries to make the point through Liza’s (Angel’s mother) words, that he is just stoic and nature, and that he loves Angel very much. But to me, Angel seemed pretty spot-on. In the prologue, is the scene of Angel’s birth, and the first thing Garrison thinks when he sees the newborn is: “Godammit, I wanted a son!” That sort of tells you what his attitude is like throughout the entire book. No matter what he argues (“I DO love you, sweetheart”) it makes it rather hard to believe.

And then there is Liza. Harvey attempts to create Liza as a beautiful, ethereal mother-figure, but she’s just about the last person I would want as a mother. Just about as egotistic as Garrison, possibly even more, she forces Angel to become a “dancer” (read, bulimic) her whole life, failing to see the reluctance in the child’s eyes until AFTER she is on her deathbed.

The characters were too self-absorbed and oblivious for me to really enjoy this story. Nonetheless, I finished it because it was an easy read. It drew out seemingly unimportant scenes (4/5 of the novel was Liza and Garrison’s inner battles that involved them talking to themselves a lot) but it wasn’t painful to finish or anything. I really expected to like it, and for the most part, the plot was really genuine, but Harvey’s writing style just disappointed me.

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