Like In Leah's Wake which I recently reviewed, Song of the Broken Hearted tells the story of a family in crisis. Although the elements of crisis were just as serious and life changing, I never felt that the family or the reader were thrust into total despair. As the story begins, Ava, who has felt the security of a loving husband and his successful career in the financial world, devotes her time to leading a Bible study group and organizing a crisis ministry. We learn immediately that Ava is alienated from her extended family and has been for many years. It appears that it has something to do with her father, a former preacher, who is now in prison. Within pages of meeting Ava. we will see her world change, and neither Ava or readers will understand why at first. Her college aged, engaged daughter comes home unexpectedly without her intended; son Jason (star athlete) sits on the bench during an extremely important game; and husband Dane begins to spend all his time at work, while imploring that Ava not use any credits cards.
As the community begins to sense that problems have hit Ava and Dana's household, one church member tells Ava to look within herself for the source. Ava is stunned and hurt. While that statement is cruel and unsympathetic, readers will have a nagging feeling that Ava does have a hidden unresolved issue. This nagging feeling is accentuated by the symbolic story of a willow tree in the family's back yard which appears to be dying.
This story of crisis is just as serious as In Leah's Wake. Readers will cheer as both families make life-changing discoveries in the midst of crises that have destroyed other families; both stories are peopled with destructive secondary characters which you hope you never meet in real life. Yet, I certainly enjoyed reading Song of the Broken Hearted more. There is a light touch of humor and caring between Ava and her best friend that keeps this story from sinking too far into gloom. While both families have basic values and faith tested, I never felt that Ava was teetering on abandoning God while Leah's family in the previous book certainly was.
I read this book on my nook, having gotten the e-copy from Wisconsin Public Library Consortium. Thanks, WPLC for another entertaining read at my fingertips.