The Girl in the Garden by Melanie Wallace

The Girl in the Garden by Melanie Wallace

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (January 31, 2017)
240 pages
Kindle Edition
Advance reading copy provided by the publisher
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Strangely, I can't quite remember how I heard about this book; I know I read something about it, somewhere, and thought it sounded interesting. This is not a debut novel, but Melanie Wallace is a new-to-me author; these selections do not always pan out well, but I'm so thankful that something prompted me to give this one a chance.

The novel begins with a young woman named June who, having recently given birth to a son named Luke, has, over the course of her life, learned not to expect much from anyone. She is dropped off at an oceanside inn in New England by the father of her child, with no money and very little of anything else. 

He didn’t have the impression that the girl even understood her luck; indeed, to the contrary, she seemed broken by never having had any luck whatsoever.

So much of what follows is character-driven; not by June, but by those she encounters in this community as she begins to create a life for herself and her child. These characters are beautifully broken and the author doles out their individual stories in bits and pieces, reminding me of the visits that I have with patients and families in my own line of work. 

Sam began laughing too, the room was no longer reeling but somehow expanding, contracting, as Oldman went on to ask: So, what happened to you? - and then Sam’s chest was heaving, a strangled sound came from him as he began sobbing into his hands, his tears salty and the taste of them bitter and Sam unabashed and anguished. For no one - not his parents or his brother, not Freddie, neither Rita nor Gloria, not Leonard, no one - had ever asked; they’d seen him, they’d seen what had become of him, Rita had often touched his scars, and maybe they’d all waited for Sam to recount what he’d been through, but their silence only reinforced his impression that they all, every last one of them, willed his story to remain untold, his past unspoken.

Throughout this novel, I would catch myself nodding empathetically and I thoroughly enjoyed the author's vivid descriptions, the writing that seemed, at times, almost like a stream of consciousness. I experienced these characters, and their stories, as highly relatable and I delighted in reading more about each of them.

While I haven't seen too much else about this novel, I certainly hope others will take a chance on it as I did; The Girl in the Garden has been an unexpected delight and I'll be recommending this one for months to come! 

 

 

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