The Sound of Glass by Karen White
Pub. Date: May 12, 2015
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, NAL!!)
Summary: It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.
Charting the course of an uncertain life—and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death—Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a new life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old half-brother.
Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country.
Recommended for: Fans of Diane Chamberlain
The Sound of Glass was a book I hadn’t planned on reading. For starters, I had never heard of it until receiving an invitation from netgalley. I’m familiar with White’s name and her book titles, but that’s where my knowledge of her/her works ends. Still, something about this one caught my eye – the beach glass perhaps? The Southern Gothic label? Buried secrets certainly didn’t hurt! In the end I went into this one completely blind and am so glad I did!
Alternating in three voices (two in the present day, one in the past), The Sound of Glass tells the story of three women harboring deep secrets and a plane crash in the 1950s that connects them. Edith witnessed the crash and found a suitcase from the wreckage in her yard. Something compelled her to keep it, take it inside and not tell a soul, and that’s just what she did (even going so far as to hide it from her husband Calhoun, a mean, angry man who was quick with his fists and didn’t allow his wife to keep the doors locked.) Inside the suitcase she found a letter and discovered she wasn’t alone, she wasn’t the only one who had a secret to keep. Calhoun also saw the crash and, as he was on the road, the explosion distracted him. His death did little to break Edith’s heart; she had already been broken several times over and now she was finally free of her husband.
Several decades later Merritt’s husband dies and she starts life over again as a too-young widow. She receives word that, Cal’s grandmother has passed and he’s the inheritor of her house…which now, as Cal’s heir, ultimately falls to Merritt. Packing up and saying goodbye to her life in Maine, Merritt heads down south to South Carolina, eager to move in immediately and forget her past. What she doesn’t know is that her stepmother Loralee (only five years Merritt’s senior) and ten-year-old son Owen are also making the move.
While reading, I kept comparing Karen White to authors like Diane Chamberlain and Jodi Picoult: family dramas with just a hint of mystery to give it some substance. While I have never read Picoult’s work, I am a big fan of Chamberlain and although I prefer her novels to White’s (which isn’t all that fair after only one novel) I think Karen White is more than able to pull her own weight here and after finishing I immediately added several other books to my To Read list on goodreads.
The Sound of Glass is not a happy book. MANY of its characters deal with domestic abuse – physical, mental, and emotional – and it’s clear White is steering the reader to the Good Guy. That said, I didn’t mind so much and when I found out the true story behind Loralee’s notebook I was devastated. Underneath it all is the mystery of the airplane disaster – just what happened that night? I’ll be honest, when the answer was finally revealed, I was not expecting it.
Just as Diane Chamberlain likes to pile on the drama (I had compared The Silent Sister to a Lifetime movie – but NOT in a bad way!), so does Karen White. Anything that can happen does, but I was more than willing to go along for the ride. The Sound of Glass isn’t highbrow literature, but it isn’t trying to be. If you like your beach reads to have a whisper of disaster and crime (but with twists you can easily spot coming), this is the book for you. I enjoyed it to the point where I’m now actively seeking more of her novels!