Review: The Sweet Letting Go by Mary O’Dell

The Sweet Letting Go by Mary O’Dell
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Publication Date: October 30th 2010
Source: ebook provided by publisher for review

When Reynolds Ernst, cynical and damaged of heart, returns to the little community of his birth after thirty years’ knocking about, little does he know that he’s about to rediscover the love of his life – only to be faced with the prospect of losing her forever. This is the story of how two people search for, and find, healing and peace in the midst of loss. How they come to believe with all their hearts that love and family are worth the risk.

Review: This is a story of an older lady dying from cancer, and how she deals with her family and a man who loved her 50 years ago and how he comes into her life to care for her in the end.

Jess Baisford was diagnosed with cancer too late, all they can do for her is make her comfortable and try to extend her life by months, possibly a year. She grew up as the Preacher’s daughter, and married a man whom her family approved, not Reynolds Ernst, from the wrong family, even though she liked him as a teenager. She had a daughter with Hank who turned out to be lesbian, and not something to be proud of in the small town of Abiding Hope. Jess had always been estranged from her daughter and didn’t want her to know that she was dying.

Reynolds Ernst married and went on his way. When his wife died, he came back to Abiding Hope to live in a small shack that was left to him by his grandfather. He started doing odd jobs around town to make a little money to get by on. One of the yards he worked in was that of Jess Baisford’s. He noticed that something wasn’t right with her, and ended up giving her rides into town for her radiation treatments. Things with them progressed from there.

This story was not well-written, and was at times vulgar and prudish. It was difficult to read and, to be honest, much of the story was skimmed, because the author belabored many points and I was looking for dialogue in order to have the story progress. The vulgarity was about the parts of Reynolds ‘arousal’ and the prudish parts were how Jess felt about her daughter and how several townspeople felt as well. That the girl, Patty Sue, was ‘peculiar.’ Also, the sheer bigotry of some of the townsfolk on the relationship with Jess and Reynolds was difficult to read. It almost seemed as if the book was written in the 1950’s.

It was a chore to make it through this book. There was a lot of potential in the story, but frankly, it was just sad. Yes, cancer is a difficult topic, and the outcome can be very depressing. Yes, the story did have the mom and daughter come together. But it was a book that threw one bad situation after another depressing situation. And there was no ‘sweet letting go.’ I cannot recommend this book to anyone.

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