“Willow Brook Road” (2015) | Book Review (April, Sep, Oct. 2020; Feb. 2021)


Chosen Book:

“Willow Brook Road” (2015) by Sherryl Woods

A Chesapeake Shores Novel; Fiction

Book Review - Multi. dates


Trigger Warnings:

“Crazy” multiple times, grief, loss, trauma mentioned, substance use (alcohol), mild suicide jokes, trichotillomania (hair pulling) language (‘they were ready to pull their hair out’).


Themes:

Grief, loss, drama, romance, adoption, family, meddling, straight couples, marriage, meaning, childcare, attachment, starting a business, dreams, adversity, challenges, emotions, snippets of emotional abuse, manipulation painted as quirky, desperate needs for DEAR MAN’s, relationships, interpersonal effectiveness, small town, through the seasons (summer to autumn), Southern town, forgiveness, understanding, career paths, definitions of living a fulfilled life.


Plot Summary:

This novel follows Carrie Winters and the meddling of her near and extended family as she tries to uncover what her own unique career path is and whom she may fall in love with along the way. Sam Winslow moves into the town of Chesapeake Shores with the single intention of raising his nephew Bobby after a horrible car accident killed his sister whom he hadn’t spoken to in forever and her wonderful husband. Thrust into a world where they no longer exist and trying his best to raise a kid he barely knew and completely change who he was as a traveler and not being tied down with a home and family and wife, Sam and Carrie’s paths cross and a spark ignites, following them as they continue to interact with one another and Carrie’s family rejoices that this match may be its true potential, even as they want her to be careful or question if it’s a healthy dynamic.

As time goes on, and Carrie works on volunteering at a daycare out of town and growing her interests (both in love and in career), her family has to accept that this is where her heart is going and it’s what’s best for her. Carrie takes care of her sibling’s and cousin’s kids and her cousin, Susie, is struggling from having recovered from breast cancer and wanting a child of her own. When an adoption falls through, Susie becomes distant, envious and unlike herself. She reacts by lashing out at Carrie and others in the family, and hating Carrie for walking into a romantic relationship that involves a small child to begin with.

As the relationships crack and break and drama ensues, the novel follows Carrie and Sam’s relationship and everything else as it seems to crumble around them. In the end, love strives to win and the dust settles. Forgiveness is passed around and the novel ends on a hopeful and existential awareness note.


Strengths and Weaknesses:

A. STRENGTHS:

Something I liked about this book was the notion of taking on other people’s issues or relating too much to them in a way that is self-sacrificing or just causes problems. Like, it was super relatable to read about falling into those traps or falling into the notion of trying to “fix” or help others even if it’s at a cost to yourself. Carrie did this at times with Sam so that was just something I could relate to as a Reader.

Another thing I could relate to in this story was the working with kids thing. So, like, I work at a residential for trauma informed youth primarily ages 4 – 12 so the insights into dealing with traumatized kids, regular kids in general and just working with them or having to do right by them or keep them safe was super relatable. One of the characters on p. 113 at the daycare was still trying to figure out that balance between being stern and being nurturing which was something I could HUGELY relate to. It’s that fine line between getting taken advantage of and sticking to your limits. I liked that about this novel and learning a little from some fictional characters. That, that was cool. 😀😉😘

In addition to the above, p. 119, picking up on body language cues is also something I need a lot more work on and my therapist actually recommended in the last month (at the time of me writing this review it’s Feb. 2021) to do some research and learn about typical body language cues from children or warning signs that things are going awry. I’ll try to write that down some time soon to start reading up on and such. It’s funny because when I do creative writing I do a lot of body language cues and such even if in real life I’m a little unaware of it. Sometimes when I’ve worked in other environments on campus though I’ve managed to pick up on it and can work with it more hands on so it’s a work in progress, for sure. Ahaha

Carrie’s snarkiness within the novel was so lovely and refreshing at times!! 😁🤣

Something that I also really loved and appreciated and stuck out to me was when Sam was waiting on Carrie to express what it was that was bothering her (which happens on p. 257). His patience was ever present and he was willing to be there for her because she needed it and it was just SO sweet and wonderful. He waited for her to be ready and that was just so lovely. 💜💜

Towards the end of the novel, Sam’s low self-esteem, low self-worth (from a traumatized childhood he had) is revealed as well as his own self-fulfilling prophecies that work against him to keep him away from Carrie and love and happiness that he feels he doesn’t deserve. It’s a note that he finds from his sister that restores his faith in the relationship he was developing with Carrie which was such a beautiful progression and I wish more of the novel could have focused on this and humanizing Sam and making him into really the main character he was supposed to be. All this drama with Carrie’s cousin Susie and everything took away from the heart of the matter, which I felt sucked a lot. I feel like if Sam’s history and his growth could have been focused on more and how he was handling these matters that were against him would have made a far better story to tell.

 

B. WEAKNESSES/Things I had issues with:

Emotional manipulation and streaks of gaslighting is painted as quirky and desirable because it’s coming from “family.” Meddling is seen as natural and something to be put up with, as if family cannot be toxic, neglectful or abusive. The book understands that this does happen and has happened to people within its pages but still paints this viewpoint that because it’s coming from a caring, loving place that it’s acceptable, okay and should be put up with.

Also, there are the traditional views of women in Western society that they should have a family with a husband and children in order to have a fulfilling life. There’s the notion that having a romantic partner is a goal in life, implying potentially that not having that is just as unexplored as anything else. This rubbed me the wrong way.

The drama in the book was present about 85% of the time and the romance only 15% which sucked because I was there for the romance. This is the third full book I’ve read by this author and I was pretty disappointed by it, sadly. I’ve never read the others in this series so maybe that affected my judgment as I could see some things as disastrous and problematic than maybe I would had I gotten to know the other characters better instead of walking in in the middle of a scene, so to speak. I also felt that it was an emotional roller coaster of a ride and I dreaded it a lot of the time and a lot of my symptoms of BPD came out with it (idolization of characters, demonization of characters, mood swings, attachments, etc.) I definitely went through waves of this book: I liked it at first, I disliked it, I hated it, I despised it, I loved it, I wanted to quit on it, I was still attached and involved, I started to like it again, I was disappointed as I finished it. It was a LOT. Just exhausting, really.

There was also this idea that Susie’s emotional abuse was something to put up with when really it just made me think of her as a bitch later evolved into a…well, not the most flattering of words. Let’s just say she became like a “mewling quim”. I hated her character and groaned every time she came on board. Her and Carrie’s reconciliation was not discussed explicitly which I would have liked because maybe I was being too harsh on her and despising her greatly, again this notion that because she was hurt she had the right to emotionally abuse her cousin was horrible, horrendous and a dangerous ideal, and I would have appreciated understanding more from her perspective and seeing why and how Carrie could forgive her. Carrie was far more forgiving and understanding than I would have been and really, really needed a DEAR MAN in her life. It was super frustrating and I almost quit the book entirely because of Susie’s bitterness, refusal to handle her emotions in an appropriate and healthy manner because she was hurt and hurting and that still gave her no right to be a bitch towards her loved ones. Ugh. Fuck Susie.

Manipulation by the family was painted in a “oh, that’s just them/that’s so cute” which was really dismaying and awful. It was like toxic positivity. It was super frustrating and definitely NOT something that even because it’s family is something you have to put up with. Ugh, no.

 

I think the novel could have worked with fancier page breaks than just simple spacings but maybe that’s just me. I also found the notion of all this manipulation and meddling as endearing was missing the mark in this book and it is a theme in some of the other novels I’ve read by Sherryl Woods but for this one it really rubbed me the wrong way and made the experience bitter and I really, really almost quit for real (but I can’t fathom not giving a book a chance so I’ll continue no matter how much I hate it!!).

On p. 146: We are introduced to the idea that a happy and fulfilling life is mainly one where a person has a love interest and isn’t alone (and down the line has a family of children and kids of their own). I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this exactly because I don’t know if it’s a good idea to paint the notion that romantic relationships and families are the only sound ways to live a happy and fulfilling life. Like, why can’t independence and “being alone” be okay, too? It’s just never really explored and I think it’s a little exclusive to only certain types of people that have to share those points of view and understanding about the world. To me, it’s like traveling the world. Some people where that’s integral to that part of their life love it and can’t imagine life without it and at the same time, will think a life without that is boring or not as complete. I personally am content with where I’m at and don’t feel the need to have to travel. And sometimes that perspective is painted as ordinary or not as good as traveling or having the family or having a partner, etc. Also, I don’t know if Woods ever writes about non-straight couples because I’d be very interested to read about that than just the traditional family views. But, maybe that’s just me!! 😛

Aaaa, yes, by page 155 we really live in the age and the thirst for meddling by the family and it’s painted as endearing when in reality it’s manipulative, overstepping boundaries and is super frustrating at least from my perspective of being the Reader in this novel. 😤🤬 This continues on p. 156 where it’s explicitly said that the meddling is typical and expected even though it’s not wanted. And when in reality it’s not something that has to be put up with just because “it’s family.”

Another thing I found super frustrating was Carrie’s lack of self respect and voicing her concerns about things or effectively managing her interpersonal relationships (sticking up for herself, saying what’s on her mind, saying what she’s comfortable or uncomfortable with, being true to herself and where she’s at, expecting people to “just know” rather than telling them) etc. She totally could use some help with DBT skills like DEAR MAN, GIVE and FAST. It was super aggravating.

Susie, (I hate to gripe on her more but…), had a problem with being manipulative and then playing the victim when things didn’t go her way or her ruthlessness was met with a broken record from Carrie and Carrie trying to keep her distance from her melting over cousin. Susie particularly shone like this on pages 276 – 277 and probably a little more beyond that. It was so annoying. Around this page I also felt that Carrie had an advantage because she knew more context about her cousin Susie than I did as a Reader. So I had all these mixed feelings about things but was still strong in my dislike for Carrie’s cousin. I still felt resentful on behalf of Carrie. We never get a full on scene of the apology which I would have benefited from greatly had there been one so that was additionally disappointing. I would have liked to read that. I think it would have helped to repair my relationship with Susie and understand where she was coming from instead of just glossing over that and having Carrie move on and forgive so easily and what seemed to be as unjustifiably. On p. 278 Carrie does in fact forgive and says to forget what Susie had said but really, I don’t. I still don’t think being hurt and in pain gave Susie the right to be abusive towards her family, especially when they had very little to do with it. Her lashing out at her cousin just wasn’t it. I hated how much the novel revolved around her and her drama rather than some ooey gooey romance stuff. Grrr.

I also think that not so much “hitting girls” is wrong, but just hitting anyone in general, regardless of their gender or gender identity is something we should be more strict about. Like, hitting a girl isn’t great but a girl hitting a boy or a boy hitting a boy, etc. also shouldn’t be condoned as okay or right, you know? It’s not like boys can’t be abused or assaulted too, and this notion that they can’t or it’s not on people’s minds first off is something we have to work on in society. (This comes up on p. 317).

What really helped me most towards all this hatred and despised nature I had towards Susie was actually in real life Mandy Harvey’s music, in particular her two songs: “Try” and “This Time“. These two songs really got me through my anger and my intense emotions as I grappled with the nature of this novel and all the feelings it brought up. They just diffused the situation right away and I could listen to them on repeat while I read and it gave me a chance to take a deep breath and just let it go as I continued onward. I am glad that I managed to finish this book, even if it was a hurricane of a time, but apparently I still managed to remember quite a bit of it as I did the review process, so, that at least was nice. Yeah, just, ranting and raving about this book and being so upset by it was tough but it’s over now and once this publishes, I can really wipe my hands clean. And I’m ready for that. I’m excited for that. It’s what I wanted all along. 💚💚💚 Peace, at last.


Book Length:

379 pages


Recommendation Score:

2/5

Dramatic stories

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What Kept Me Reading & the Book’s Impact on Me:

Definitely my intense levels of being stubborn kept me reading this book. I refuse, no matter how good or how bad a book is, to give up on it half-way through. Not only have I become invested with my time, my attention span, my mind and my craft, but I refuse to let the book make or break me. By that point, I want to see it through all the way. I can’t fathom giving up and not giving it a chance. I hold onto hope that it gets better and when it doesn’t, it doesn’t, but a lot more of the time it DOES. The satisfaction I can feel and the fulfillment that I got through it, no matter what, is something I want to give back to myself at the very end. The moment I can shut the book and sigh and then just plow through its review is immense and such a relief (even if more of the time I’ve written up reviews that I have yet to publish. It’s… a work in progress). And again, a lot of the time I will like a book, then dislike it for a bit (usually because I’m not reading it or not able to focus well enough for it) and then by the end I have liked it again. I usually have so much to say about the books I read that it’s only mandatory that I write a review of it.

For this book, again, I managed to remember quite a bit of what happened in it so I’m proud of that and I’m so happy to be letting it go again soon. My plan is to return this book and TAoCL tomorrow at the library so I can finally let go and say goodbye. It is so nice to be able to do that. To stick with something no matter how good or bad it is and know that you did everything you could to get through it and in the end, whether it was a happy or a doubtful experience, it’s done and it’s over and you gotta move on to the next one. For this book, I’m glad it’s over, I hope I never hear of another Susie again in a Woods novel and I can’t wait to uncover some of my other Woods books from the libraries that I’ve loaned them from. For now, I think I will settle on a psychological thriller I’ve had in my possession for over a year, haha.


Noteworthy Quotes:

  1. “Everybody has problems. Some are worse than others, but that doesn’t mean they don’t matter to the people trying to get through them” — Woods, 2015, p. 31

2. “He’d vowed not to show any sign of weakness in front of his nephew. Bobby needed to believe in [Sam]” — Woods, 2015, p. 43

I think it’s pretty arguable that emotions and grief are not weaknesses and instead showing them is a sign of immense strength.

3. “‘[Carrie to her Grandpa Mick] You mean I’m letting you down yet again…. Sorry, I guess I’m just destined to be a huge failure in your eyes'” — p. 217

Honestly in this exchange, Grandpa Mick was a total asshole and the hurt and pain in Carrie’s body language and words was SO palpable. It also hugely reminded me of Loki in the MCU and just in my fanfics as well. It was so rough. It definitely also reminded me of his relationship with his not-father Odin, too. It also made me think how much Loki, as well as Carrie, needed to verbalize their pain more. 💔💔💔

4. “[Sam to Carrie] ‘I’ve already made mistakes.’ [Carrie] ‘Find me one human being who hasn’t. Or one parent who hasn’t made a boatload of them…. Mistakes are part of life. It’s what you do to fix things that really matters'” — p. 266

I thought this was just SO beautiful and really captures the romance which was what I was here for. I’m so annoyed that Susie and the other drama was the main focus of the novel and not just nurturing and blossoming this love interest. If it had been, I would have rated it a lot higher and it would have been a far more pleasant experience. Instead I just despised Susie and hated her so much.

5. “‘You can’t fix this,’ Bobby said to Sam, clearly resigned to suffering alone. His attitude made Sam want to cry. No six year old should be feeling this defeated. ‘Fix what? Maybe I can’t, but you have to tell me so I can at least try'” — p. 290

I really loved this scene and thought it was so poignant and something I have to try out at work some time!! The notion of this tactic to be honest and yet problem solving is so huge and something any kiddo struggling needs to hear. 💔🖤🖤

6. “As Sam’s sister had told him [in her letter], it was time for him to start running toward something, rather than away from it. People who loved deeply got hurt. They suffered terrible losses. It was unavoidable. But loving deeply was the only way to truly live” — p. 372

Again, I’m not entirely sure how much I agree with this statement. In some ways, yes, I can understand it, but I’ve also not been a person who has had a long lasting or much of a lasting romantic relationship and I don’t have plans to have a family of children one day with a partner so I don’t know how much I can relate to or agree with it. I think being alone can be okay and not wanting traditional values is also okay. I feel like saying it’s the ONLY way to live a happy life is a bit insensitive and not all that inclusive. I think there are multiple ways to live a fulfilling and happy and healthy life beyond just having a partner (especially in a straight, heterosexual world only) and having kids and a family. I guess my avoidance patterns of behavior is blocking me from exploring this so much right now, especially since there’s a worldwide pandemic happening and I can’t exactly meet up with people for romance, let alone just my friends. It’s something I’ll have to explore one day but not for now. I do suppose it’s that notion of “to love at all is worth it even if you’re not loved back”. Hmm. I’ll have to mull this one over more.

There’s the additional quote later on where Sam says he’s ready for love to win over fear–I’m definitely not there yet in my life. Fear still trumps a lot in my life so maybe one day when I’m freer I can experience more of these benefits of life. I think I’ve gotten very used to being “on my own” or not having the backup of an emotional relationship like romance and so I’m more attuned to self-sustaining behaviors and ideals rather than opening myself up to putting someone else’s needs besides my own first. I guess I’m just in a different place than most.


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Wandering Thoughts I had while reading/Extra Notes:

    • p. 154: Equivocal and vocalized are nice words
    • p. 165: That’s definitely NOT what a threesome means and why does Carrie have to change because of someone else’s opinion of her and her influence in the setting with Sam and Bobby? I don’t think that’s particularly necessary and maybe something she should be more critical of and wary against
    • p. 167: I don’t understand why Carrie cares so much about what other people think. She takes the notion that Bobby may be attaching to her in an unhealthy way as fact when really it’s because she is nervous about falling in love with Sam and can’t separate the fact that other people’s opinions are just opinions and not something she has to change for her own sanity. I think she used the opportunity as an excuse to not get close to Sam or Bobby further until she could figure out what her intentions were and where she would be going with them. Which, was too bad at the time.
    • p. 168: Shows a good indication of manipulation with good intentions where Sam wants Carrie to stay with him for the evening keep him company with food and wine. Carrie is conflicted and definitely sending him mixed signals so this is annoying in one part and also an indication that Carrie needs to pick a side and stick with it. She struggles with this though and being clear about her intentions and what she wants and doesn’t want and is easily influenced by others. 🙄
    • p. 174: There is not a capital letter after a dialogue exclamation which I found interesting and will try to remember when I use similar wording/typography in my own work (my grammar/technical writing has become so awful since being out of school). “For example!” she muttered.
    • p. 185: Reminded me that I should (as of Sept. 2020) work on my fanfics and my memoir! I’m at a mixed state with this. I haven’t touched my memoir in months and I’m working in and out of different fanfics and a new creative writing endeavor I’m on at the moment of writing this review (Feb. 2021).
    • p. 216: There’s this notion with Susie and Carrie that taking care of other people’s children will never fully replace their need for having one of their own. For me, I find that it fills that pretty well (but I also don’t want children myself) and having the work I do gives me my fill of children and allows me to be able to go home and do what I normally would be doing without being bogged down with other matters. (Also it freaks me out that you don’t know what kind of human you could be creating and what if they become like a serial killer or a horrible person? I don’t want to get murdered. And it’s such a lifelong endeavor. Meh, not for me. I can have pets sure but I’m not all that inclined to have to have children.) 
    • p. 237: In regards to Carrie and Susie’s now estranged and strained relationship, I would NOT be as quick as Carrie to forgive her cousin because no matter how much pain she is in (Susie) that gives her NO right to be cruel and emotionless towards her family members (or even strangers!). I just wouldn’t forgive her right away and wouldn’t want to be around her for a while. Susie was being SUCH a bitch. That doesn’t give her an excuse just because she was hurting. On top of that, Carrie needs to confront the issue and practice a DEAR MAN and also not be alone with her thoughts.
    • p. 308: There’s a nice “rise and fall” of chest reference here which made me go (●’◡’●) because of the innerworkings of being a cardiophile. 😙🤗🤩
    • By p. 320 I was feeling exhausted and annoyed that the book felt far more like 90% drama and 10% romance. This constant back and forth between Sam and Carrie was just so ugh, eye roll worthy. Every time they made some progress, something else would slide back against them. And it wasn’t like there was a lot of pages left for the novel so it definitely ended prematurely and without having a saturated amount of romance throughout. It was definitely a bust for me. Which sucked. I’d invested so much into a story that just didn’t have a significant payoff. Surprisingly though, I still remember a good chunk of it so that helped in part of making this review–hooray, I suppose?
    • p. 363: I noted that about 85% of the time I didn’t understand why Carrie was mad 😂
    • p. 379: The very end of this novel ends on a super existential awareness point of view that I honestly could have happily gone without. It ends with Mick’s perspective and was just too real, too soon, too much and immensely depressing and sad while also layered with a sense of hope, lingering feelings, family and love. It was a whirlwind for sure. It was also a bit horrifying. And just very surreal to think of life and the end of life and all of that jazz. 😨😭🤪

Dates I read this book:

4.5.2020, 4.7, 4.8, 6.18, 9.17, 9.18, 9.21, 9.29, 9.30, 10.1, 10.4, 10.5, 10.8, 10.9.2020


Dates I wrote this review:

10/12/20, 2.22.2021, 2.25.21

Any background music: “This Time” by Mandy Harvey, ambient nature sounds, a mix of songs including Demi Lovato, Shawn Mendes etc.


Thank you:

Annnnnnnnd so, we have made it to the end of this review!! This was more of a traditional book review for me and I surprisingly did not have a super lot to say regarding quotes and I originally had it set with this thumb above so I didn’t feel the need to make it into more of a “Book Exploration Station” post. So, you’re welcome for that! It was still about 4,800 words but by far simpler and not as intense and complicated as my latest TAoCL review/BES. So for now, I’m going to go to a support group and I’m gonna have dinner, take my meds, read a book and begin another review so that I can drop off books tomorrow to their respective libraries. Thank you so much for stopping by and reading!! Feel free to share this post across social media and let me know what you thought! I’m planning to get back into the blogosphere very soon. For now, I also have some print-outs for work I have to manage and some watered down versions of my fanfics for a kiddo at work I’m sharing with. As well as that creative writing story I am working on with them since this past week and on towards Sunday as well.

Thank you so much and I’ll see you again soon.

PS I really need to work on videos too, ooof. It’s a process. I’ll try to soon.

All the best, my friends.

xxx 🤍🤍🤍

#SummerComer #PoetryChallenge Entry #4: Do Not Make This Funeral Her Home

Hello there and welcome back to another poetry related blog post!!! I apologize for disappearing off the face of WordPress the last few weeks, I’ve been busy being forgetful and often procrastinating on my adult responsibilities, having lack of motivation at times, an otherwise glum type of mood or pretending like certain things don’t exist if I preoccupy myself with something else in the mean time, so, you know, the usual. 😉

I wrote today’s entry’s poem a couple of days ago as you’ll see noted down below, and I pulled from a few different elements which I’ll get into after I paste it all here. Overall, my life’s been all right and I’m happy to have been able to reconnect with some online friends of mine, starting back up where we left off which has been amazing and very heartwarming and rewarding. I have a few other messages I have to attend to soon, a book to finish somehow and in some manner, tweets to make and a couple of emails to write up. I’ve been trying to do some fanfic related reading and messages too so there’s also that. There will be a few new blog related posts to come into fruition soon as well. For now, let’s start off the end of this week with the poetry challenge!!!


QUICK! WHAT ARE THE RULES?

This post marks my fourth entry into the weekly Summer Comer poetry challenge I’ve made for myself to last from the end of May 2020 to Sept 4th 2020. The rules include:

  • each post begins with the thumb above
  • each poem will be individually titled and labeled by the entry number in both the piece itself (at the end) and in the title
  • each post will include any background music used to “set the mood” which will be listed at the end of the entry
  • each poem loosely exists within the context of summer but is not strictly limited in constructing that imagery. I.e. it’s a summer project but may venture outside of that topic/theme-wise. 🙂
  • the goal: one poem each week from the end of May to the start of September under the hashtag: #SummerComer

Let me know what you think of this week’s poem down in the comments! (And as for how I was feeling last week, I’m a lot better and I was able to do some fanfic writing that helped get out of my sexual frustrations ahaha.)

And if you want to help support my mission with this poetry challenge, leave me a prompt, theme or character name/subject you’d like to see me cover and I’ll incorporate something in and give you a shout-out, too!!! ❤ ❤ ❤ Stay tuned until the end to hear my process of this poem, what song I listened to and all that jazz. 🙂 Also here is last week’s entry if you want to reread it!


Do Not Make This Funeral Her Home

Trigger Warning: Grief, loss, death

 

One day,

he knew

the sparkle would

return to her eyes,

the sunlight that

wafted down from

the thick leaved treetops

would part through her

blonde hair as alive and well

as she had been.

 

In the summer night glow

he’d smell her favorite perfume

again,

and he’d hear the shrill

whine in her voice as

she called his name,

“Tyler!

Tyler!”

growing louder and louder

as her heart sang and her

voice rose to the clouds

up above.

 

Her laughter would turn his

insides to goo. He’d be

swinging his head back to meet her,

chuckling as his brown hair

met the rays of iridescence.

 

And it would feel like someone

had planted rainbows in his chest

and his heart would flutter

in anticipation and just as he

was turning towards her—

it would have happened.

 

the truck came barreling

out of nowhere and

his face had enough time

to contort into horror and

he just managed to see

Madeline’s eyes twitch in

confusion as her slim brows

rose in question

before a thunderous roar

escaped and

somewhere between heaven

and Earth,

their shouts and formless

words were blinded by the

truck’s horn and

in the flicker of a second

everything he had once

cared about was

obliterated into nonexistence.

 

He’d thought there’d be

more time.

He’d only wanted

more time.

 

More time to:

hug her,

love her,

cherish her,

need her,

want her,

build a life

together

with her,

carry her,

dream with her,

be–just simply be–

with her.

 

But some dreams shatter

and some fates

are just

not meant to be.

 

So with a mournful look,

he watched as she was

laid to rest–

a rest he couldn’t

fathom would be easy.

 

She had so much left to do,

so much left to change

and impact

and he couldn’t understand

why her life would be taken

instead of…

instead of…

another’s?

His?

 

His.

 

She’d wanted only

the best in life

and it should have been

a sin to take away

such a radiant beam

when the world was

only growing dimmer

and darker by the second.

 

He knew he had

to make a change,

take a stand,

have something be

different

because Madeline Cross

had been alive

and existing once on

this planet.

 

And now that she

wasn’t–someone

had to know what

they were all missing

out on.

 

So he spent months working upon

awareness and reading

agonizingly boring

books on law and

legislation until he

found the way for the

city to commemorate

her death and

build not only a

memorial walkway

where Madeline

lost her life,

a guard rail

to better seclude the

nature trail and install

a stoplight to further

separate the rough framework

between nature and

manmade civilization.

 

And for a while it

eased the ache left

inside his heart

but it didn’t all go

away,

he was pained instead

with a loss so deep he

had no plan on how

to mold or change it.

 

So he didn’t.

 

He mourned.

 

And when he thought

it was over,

it returned again–

until one day

he was out on the

sandy beach,

watching the tide

come in and fade

and he felt her–

he felt Madeline–

take his hand and

squeeze and if he

wasn’t mad,

he heard her giggle and

he heard her say,

“It’s all right, Tyler.

It’s okay to let me go.”

 

Because now he knew

he never really would

and their relationship and

her loss would shape him

and refold him

for all the time and

years he had left.

 

He couldn’t control how

much time Madeline had–

and he certainly

couldn’t control his–

but it was time for him

to move through his

grief–not as a destination

rather a process,

a journey.

 

So when the salty air

pricked the tears

forming in his eyes,

he let himself go,

and he wasn’t surprised

to find all of himself

 

still. there.

Technical aspects of the poem:

Handwritten: 6/11/2020

Typed and Edited: (any minor spelling errors resulted from the typing up portion, in case you find any lingering flaws) 6/12/2020

Music: “Where the Shadow Ends” by BANNERS ft. Young Bombs. Train ambiance also used in the writing process.


About the poem itself: This is honestly the first true original characters/setting poems that I’ve done in a very long time and it was incredibly refreshing and helpful to just take a moment in the pause between my reading a book (of which many frustrations arose) and just create again. It was really, really nice. There wasn’t really much I was upset about but I could use what I learned from the grief book I’m reading as well as tossing in some images I could relate to (for instance, the truck accident made me imagine that scene in “Pet Sematary” the original movie) in addition to some sad news I found out about a friend of mine. It all just wrapped together well and like I’ve already said, it was nice and soothing and I felt calmer after I had written it. I’d had vibes earlier in the week but it was nice to sit down and just let it all flow and see where it would go.

For the title I thought of “Funeral homes” and how that shouldn’t be Madeline’s home and so the title is a call to how we have to learn to move forwards and through our grief rather than expecting it to come and go in expected, structured manners. That her home, or anyone’s home, isn’t in the death and casket or urn itself but her life was the home all along, instead. It’s a way of remembering her and finding justice and peace in her untimely death, it’s a way of trying to make her life have meaning and have her leave behind a positive legacy. It’s also all about the relationship and attachment that happened prior and the end of the relationship isn’t really the end, it’s just a new normal so to speak. Again, when I do this book review on GIAJ this theme will make more sense.

PS In my mind, both Tyler and Madeline were in their mid to late teens. 🙂

Any who, that’s it for me for now!!!

I hope to have much more posts in the coming weeks and to find ways to motivate myself again and finally finish this book!!!

Thank you so much for reading!!! Stay safe! xxx ❤ ❤ ❤

“Sea Glass Island” (2013) | Book Review (2018) & Sherryl Woods Appreciation Post

Book Review THUMB


Chosen Book:

“Sea Glass Island” (2013) by Sherryl Woods

An Ocean Breeze Novel; Book 3 of 3.


Trigger Warnings:

PTSD (brief), substance use (alcohol), brief reference to suicide.


Themes:

Romance, meaning (life), purpose, acting, long lost love, forgiveness, faith, taking a chance, happiness, opening one’s mind and soul, letting go, dreams, work, dating, war heroism, second chances, hope, overcoming, new pursuits, southern state, meddling sisters (for the good overall), betrayal, disability, medicine (as a practice).


Summary:

This is the final part of a trilogy of romantic relationships at the hub of the story in which Samantha Castle finds love with a football player turned war hero named Ethan Cole. The story follows Samantha and Ethan and their growing love interest while the other two Castle sisters set weddings in order with their own romantic partners (as described in the first two novels).

Along the way, Samantha gets Ethan to take another look at happy endings and true love and to set his heart on the line to engage in a romance that could become life changing for the two of them. Samantha also leaves behind old acting dreams to pursue a new future. Based in North Carolina, this book offers love, dreams, hopes and insight on taking upon pursuits once foreign and daunting and making something beautiful, meaningful and life changing out of overcoming that fear. ❤


Recommendation Score:

5/5 Romantic Relationships


**Disclaimer: I hand wrote this review two years ago and will only trim down and somewhat edit it (so as to keep it shorter and more readable) to best portray my thoughts on this novel and my intense love and admiration of Sherryl Woods’ work as I gravitate towards her novels ever since I read this book in the last hospitalization I was in. I hope that you are able to enjoy the shine and the glitter of this review. Thank you, even years later. <3**


Striking Quotes:

1. “(Emily [sister]) ‘Why? Not everything is up to you to fix. If Samantha wanted help, she could have said something. That’s her way, though. She just suffers in silence, then resents it when nobody jumps in to save the day'” — Woods, (2013), p. 16

My Thoughts (18): This portion of the conversation jumped out to me as noteworthy regarding Emily’s stance in her sisterhood with Samantha and Gabi as well as relevant to my newest mode in my recovery journey. It was something that stuck out in my mind.

MT (20): I think it’s just a super relatable mental health theme, that we sometimes expect others to be there for us to help rescue us, forgetting that WE are the ones who have to put in the work, time and effort to be our OWN superheroes. It’s definitely possible and when we’re highly symptomatic it feels impossible and out of this world. We have to keep chipping away at our brain’s lies though, and we’ll do that best by talking openly and being there for one another. That is all. 🙂 ❤ (And of course, that’s not to say that asking for help is easy, either!! It’s incredible hard and it’s also possible. Keep reaching out til someone hears you!!!)

2. “(Greg, Ethan’s friend, speaking): ‘But the woman’s (Lisa, E’s ex) still in your head. I’ve seen you show a spark of interest in someone new a time or two, and then in a flash I can almost see the wheels in your head turning and that tape of her dumping you playing again. I think that’s what I hate her for the most, not that she left, but that she ripped your soul to shreds in the process'” — Woods, 2013, p. 35

MT (20): I think this really sets up the issues that Ethan has with love and the betrayal that happened to his mind and heart after he got injured in the war and came back not himself. Lisa was a biiiiitch. And I’m glad he clicked with Samantha and gave her a chance and they fell in love and got through the hardships together!! Such a great story arc/redemption 🙂

3. “And Ethan, who’d once caught (Samantha’s) attention with his charm, good looks and football prowess, was courageous. She had no doubts about that. Even in this morning’s brief encounter, she’d realized the kind of strength it must have taken for him not only to survive his (war) injury, but to move forward, to not accept limitations. In her view, that made him someone to be admired” — Woods, 2013, p. 41

MT 18: I thought this was just something to think about and keep in my mind. :3 Which one do you think you are for having survived and have worked on thriving through your own struggles?

4. “Samantha barely contained a sigh of envy at the conviction she heard in (Boone’s, her sister’s husband) voice. Boone sounded the same way when he talked about Emily. Was she ever going to find the same sort of devotion? Would anyone ever look at her as if she were the sun, the moon and stars all rolled into one?” — Woods, 2013, p. 58

MT 20: This is a beautiful depiction of some of the writing held within this book. ❤ I wonder if Woods has ever written same sex couples? It’d be amazing if she has.

5. “(E, saying things are all in black and white) S: ‘Oh, sweetie, there is an awful lot of gray in the world. Believe me, you’ll figure that out eventually'” — Woods, 2013, p. 61

MT 20: Beautifully said. And so, so, very, very true. ❤

6. “E: ‘ Can you identify with what [kids with disabilities are] experiencing?’ S: ‘No, that doesn’t mean I can’t feel compassion for any of you'” — Woods, 2013, p. 105

MT 18/20: Empathy exists, too. ❤ ❤ ❤

7. “(I believe this is Samantha’s father telling her): ‘The time to quit anything is when you no longer feel the same passion for it. There are people who work because they know they need the money, and there are people whose very soul depends on doing the kind of work they’ve chosen'” — Woods, 2013, p. 174

 

8. “‘(S): They key to living a good life, I think, is to wind up with more good days than bad ones. And you know what? I really do believe we have some control over that'” — Woods, 2013, p. 220

MT 18: Maybe the biggest takeaway from this book with all its romances and positivities. Makes me ponder on my own set of good days and the choices I have to make in my life as well as some part of the way to get there. It skirts on the edge of finality yet there’s a form of acceptance in that. 🙂 (Maybe this too inspired me to do accomplishments of the day. :))

9. “Overnight one thought had echoed again and again–that the only way to grab the future she wanted was to stay here in Sand Castle Bay and fight for it. That meant letting go of New York and everything it had once represented. She needed to wholeheartedly embrace a new plan for her life, then throw herself into it with total passion” — Woods, 2013, p. 247

MT 18: Life is a bunch of series of knowing when to stay put and fight and when to let go and dream.

10. “‘Being here will only limit you as much as you allow it to'” — Woods, 2013, p. 251

11. “(Samantha’s father): ‘Let it be a lesson to you, Samantha. Life is short. I always thought there’d be time to do the things your mother wanted to do some time down the road. There wasn’t'” — Woods, 2013, p. 266

MT 18: I don’t know if the previous two books touched on how their Mom passed away but this quote is morbid and all too real. ❤

12. “Flowers were everywhere, a mix of white roses and blue hydrangeas. Small arrangements of the same flowers served as center pieces, set on periwinkle-blue tablecloths. Candles were ready to be lit as soon as dusk fell. Twinkling white lights in the shrubbery and trees would add a fairy tale element as guests danced under the stars” — Woods, 2013, p. 271

13. “(S) ‘You aren’t the same man, though. You’re a thousand times better. You’re courageous and brave. You’ve overcome a serious injury that could have destroyed you.’ E: ‘I haven’t overcome anything that thousands of other soldiers haven’t had to face.’ S: ‘And you’re all heroes, Ethan. You’re worth more than a hundred self involved, shallow women like Lisa'” — Woods, 2013, p. 279

MT 20: This makes me wonder how many mental health warriors there are out in the world and it reminds me that I’m not alone. Also, it’s important to think about what sets you apart from everyone else who has gone through similar circumstances. This can be a fun thing to play around with in terms of identity, passion and inspiration. 🙂 ❤

14.  “Now all Cora Jane could do was sit back and pray that Samantha would find her way through the pain she was experiencing right this second and focus on the bright possibilities ahead” — Woods, 2013, p. 343

MT 18: This quote really stood out with me and resonates as something those around me likely feel. I’m starting to grow a view of the future beyond May or June. 🙂

15. “Samantha had to think about this, determine how badly she wanted it. Was it enough to fight for it? Samantha: ‘I don’t know if I want to go forward.’ This whole incident had shaken her more than she’d realized. Sophia: ‘Of course you’re going forward. Backward is never a good option in life'” — Woods, 2013, p. 350

MT 18: A plight in my recovery that is timeless. ❤

Even in 2020. ❤


For A Moment to Fangirl over Sherryl Woods’ creations:

I love Sherryl Woods since this book, although I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t think I’ve successfully managed to read another one of her novels since then (I stopped reading for a while; unrelated) but I’ve taken out her books and bought others relentlessly since. I just love her positivity, her descriptions, her characters, her tone, her meaningful prose, her life changing reads (even if it was only the one so far). I just love HER. She’s an excellent author in a genre I don’t normally read very much at all. And she gave my life the calm and ability to think of the future possibilities ahead of me during a time where I was struggling to get through the next hour. So, for that, I owe her writing so much of what I’ve accomplished today. She may never know how deeply affected my stumbling upon her work in a psychiatric hospitalization was for me but it truly helped to spark change, hope and renewal within me. I felt so inspired after I read the story and could really better imagine a future for myself, if her books existed. I’m ever so grateful that that future DOES exist. ❤ I hope that this very long review helps to best depict that, too. I was drawn by the beauty of the cover and I’m so, so, so glad I was able to be. And yes, I totes stole like 5 or 6 other books from that hospital too, ahaha. I also haven’t read any of those… XD I have a bit of a book problem, if it’s not obvious yet. Thank you so much for reading. ❤ ❤ ❤ (And go check out Sherryl Woods novels!!)


Notes/Reminders/Less Significant Quotes:

    • “(Greg, Ethan’s friend, speaking): ‘But the woman’s (Lisa, E’s ex) still in your head. I’ve seen you show a spark of interest in someone new a time or two, and then in a flash I can almost see the wheels in your head turning and that tape of her dumping you playing again. I think that’s what I hate her for the most, not that she left, but that she ripped your soul to shreds in the process'” — Woods, 2013, p. 35

      MT (20): I think this really sets up the issues that Ethan has with love and the betrayal that happened to his mind and heart after he got injured in the war and came back not himself. Lisa was a biiiiitch. And I’m glad he clicked with Samantha and gave her a chance and they fell in love and got through the hardships together!! Such a great story arc/redemption 🙂

    • “Even as the offer came out of his mouth, he was mentally kicking himself for making it. Spending any more time with this woman than absolutely necessary was probably emotional suicide” — Woods, 2013, p. 33

      MT (18): This is something that probably rubbed me the wrong way but luckily it didn’t cause me to give up and drop the book, rather I gave it another chance and I’m glad I did.

      MT (20): You could probably say I was bristled reading this line and it made me feel a lot of feelings because I was emotionally vulnerable at the time. Now, it’s definitely not my most FAVORITE thing, but I can shrug it off a bit better and not take it to heart as much. ❤ Yay, growth!!

    • MT 18: A quote that’s not super applicable for this review involved me just wondering in contemplation whether books were meant to be physically owned or returned? And, which of the two was the deciding factor? How do we know when a novel isn’t for us and when it could have a life altering secret to it?

      MT 20: When is it okay to quit mid-way through and can you, realistically, do so if you’ve already become invested in the characters? Could you live with not knowing how it ends?

      I don’t know these answers, honestly. It seems utterly absurd to me to not finish a book after I started to read it, no matter how terrible it is. Maybe this would be good for me to challenge in the future. :3

    • “(Greg) ‘Like I said, (Samantha) was out of my league. And I had enough issues living in the shadow of your popularity without risking rejection by one of your adoring fans'” — Woods, 2013, p. 36

      MT 18: This reminds me of Loki telling Thor in the MCU that Loki always had to live in “the shade of your greatness” and it’s a small insight of acknowledgement for my fanfic D&D, a high school AU.

      MT 20: Hehehe, sponsoring my fanfics even years ago!! But yeah, that’s definitely what it reminds me of, the quote, even today. Hehe. God, I love the MCU. ❤

    • I like to live my life with declarations of gratitude because you never know when someone is going to need to hear that confession, that support, that positivity. ❤ 🙂
    • How do people/writers understand consciously such subtle clues of socializing and deeper emotional connection (that being body language)? (Depicting small movements, facial cues, emotional expressions etc.)
    • CONCEPT: good actors are supposed to be capable of engaging an audience to make them forget all about reality (Woods, 2013, p.115). MT 18: I love these characters and can really get behind their message and see through their eyes their thoughts and I wonder if I’ll ever look at actors the same way again. 😀
    • Reference to the title of this book is made on p. 122. MT 18: Shots fired!! I love how Sea Glass Island was described and the GORGEOUS photo for the cover of the book was used. It’s a way of describing that I could include in my own fanfics and stories. It’s also dawned on me at this point that my own experiences and the quotes I use to highlight these contents reflect my own thoughts and interpretations and may not necessarily be the same for someone else who comes by them because of the background of THEIR own experiences. Thought that was neat!!
    • Balance theme for juggling work, a social life, family/friends/support and hobbies and health, and chores. ❤
    • (Cora Jane to S): “‘Just keep in mind how much you love this man and how much he loves you. Do that and everything will turn out all right'” — Woods, 2013, p. 159 MT 20: This is the hope and romance every grandma could produce into the world and it’s so beautiful and true that I had to include it because reasons. ❤ ❤ ❤ Sherryl Woods’ novels are a perfect amount of hope and light when I pick out serial killer novels and nonfiction streams of words, ahaha.

    • “Maybe when someone loved deeply and lost, they never got over it. In the case of Ethan–a man with so much to offer–going through life alone would be a real tragedy” — Woods, 2013, p. 169 MT 20: A less significant quote but something I wanted to include all the same. :3
    • On page 171 I was reminded from a discussion of accommodation in relationships of a good example of love between Thor and Loki in my Severed fanfic. 🙂
    • CONCEPT: This is a novel about love and happiness and at the same time it touches briefly on loss and grief yet the story is not central to it. It’s okay to have happy endings. Life is more than just the finality of death. Dare to explore and expand your world view and you’ll see brighter stars than ever before. ❤
    • Reminder that I wanted to organize my fanfics and my own dreams and ideas. 🙂
    • Idea: One of the characters talks about being somebody else for a while (acting) and this made me wonder in what ways I could try that myself–writing is one way and other forms of art are too (reading especially). I wondered, too, if I could act. It’d be interesting. ❤
    • Question: How do us writers know when to keep writing and when to stop? What’s the understanding behind that? How are chapters and length of books decided? What’s the longest book out there?
    • It’s important to tell those you care about that you appreciate them and you recognize their strengths and when they’re trying their best. ❤
    • (On a behavior/viewpoint that’s outlived its usefulness) MT 18: It’s interesting how behaviors/thoughts serve us a purpose for a while and then are no longer needed or necessary.
    • CONCEPT: I used to really despise changes when I was younger but now I think that I’m a bit more flexible. Sometimes we fight changes and sometimes it’s nearly inevitable that we find ourselves capable of slouching back and relaxing into the process. Don’t fight your growth. You are worth it.
    • IDEA: I wonder how many authors and writers that have been published will accept questions or letters from readers about how they are aspiring writers and what ways they can best navigate the process. Yeah… 🙂
    • Related Reminder: I could totally write a book and I really look forward to really setting aside time to work on this goal of mine. I really, really should soon. ❤ I have better ideas as to what they’d be about now, in 2020. 🙂

Original days worked on this review (handwritten notes):

2/15/2018, 2/16, 2/17/18.

Days typing this post:

4/2/2020, 4/3, 4/5, 4/6


Ending note:

Hi again. I hope that this post was interesting, you found some inspiration from it, you read it because it took me forever and a lot of re-formatting to figure out again and that it’s something you can come back to in the future. 🙂 I have TONS of old book reviews and now film reviews to upload for you guys. My next two posts involve: revisiting recovery and music with 3 new songs and a coming out blog post. After this, I will work on some other old reviews and hopefully by next week I’ll have a new book read from this year under my belt. 🙂 Thank you so much!!! I’m off to eat and shower and write, hopefully, some fanfic. 🙂 ❤  ❤ ❤ xxx

PS If there’s any glaring typos or misspellings, let me know! I don’t have the heart to fully scan through this post lmao