come sunday: a book review October 14, 2010Posted by guinever in book review, death, grief, loss.
Tags: Come Sunday, Isla Morley
I buried myself in this novel on a road trip this summer. A heart wrenching story about a child who dies and a mother’s grief and journey to her homeland to find healing, this book isn’t for everyone. When my husband asked me what the book was about and I told him, he replied, “How can you read that stuff?”
Morley describes grief in such a genuine way that I doubt she is a stranger to loss. I found Come Sunday well-written and at times, poetic. For example, in the hospital scene after Cleo’s death, Morley pens,
Cleo’s lower lip is crooked, weighted to the right as it always was when she was asleep or when she was scared. Exactly how it was when she was born.
“Cleo!” I cry, calling into the abyss, calling her back from the void; a loud clear call. “Wake up, Cleo, open your eyes, darling; it’s time to go home.”
But she has gone to the burial grounds of drowned boys and crucified Lords.
A child dies. A mother mourns. What else can I say? That’s my life story.
But that’s where my path diverges with the grieving mother in the book. She lets her grief overshadow the rest of her life for a time. She places blame for her daughter’s death where it doesn’t belong. She shuts out some of her closest friends. She leaves her husband.
The main character remembers a conversation she had with her daughter Cleo about a statue of the virgin Mary:
“What’s her name?” she asked.
“That’s Mary, Jesus’ mommy,” I answered.
“Is she sad?” she wanted to know, glancing up at the Holy Mother with her downcast eyes.
“I’m not sure,” I said after a pause.
But I know now. I know that Mary’s grief is a thousand fathoms deep, where blue is so dense it becomes black. So vast is her sorrow that she cannot speak but only part her robe and reveal the crimson heart that in its stubbornness will not cease its beat.
It’s passages like this that made the book a page turner for me. I found myself holding my breath, feeling nauseous, laughing, wiping a tear from my cheek, and wanting to get to the last page to see how it ends and then wanting more of the story. I recommend the book to those who don’t mind being a little sad or mad…
In a conversational video, Morley says about the book, “I want people to feel that redemption always triumphs tragedy and loss and hope trumps sorrow. I want them to feel assured about holding onto hope, that although life is hard and sometimes there are seemingly insurmountable tragedies that there is a new day, a Sunday coming.”