Sunday, August 14, 2011

Carly's Sound by Ali Vali

Publisher:                 Bold Strokes Books

Sometimes a book is so good that writing a review is difficult. The concern is that something will be said in the review that will cause a reader not to try the book. That would be a true shame in the case of Carly's Sound.

Carly Stevens is dead. That isn't a spoiler. That fact is established on the first page. Poppy Valente felt her world die when Carly died in her arms. It was nine hundred and seventeen days before the book starts and Poppy finally feels like she can begin to get on with her life. She doesn't ever expect to be happy again, but Valente Resorts will keep her busy and there are people who depend on her. She's drawn back to Carly's Sound, the resort that she and Carly had planned to be special for them. Maybe there she can find the will to go forward alone.

Julia Johnson is hoping to start again also. Her brother Rayford has been hired to be the assistant manager at a new resort and Julia is pretending to be his wife so that she can begin a new life with her small child. Things only become more complicated when she discovers that her new friend, who has opened up so many possibilities to her and who takes such good care of her daughter, is her brother's boss. She wants to open her heart to the sensitive woman, but is afraid of the lie that stands between them. And there is the fact that she has to compete with a dead woman.

Carly's Sound is a sensitive story about loss and renewal. Ali Vali shows a masterful use of the language in the way she deals with Poppy's feelings. There are no long tortuous passages about how much she misses Carly. Instead, Vali uses her words and actions to show how much Carly meant to Poppy and what a devastation her loss was. Vali doesn't bludgeon the reader with sadness, but the feeling is still there. One of the best devices used in the book is to have Carly's ghost appear in the story. Whenever Poppy's misery threatens to become too strong, Carly pops in and provides some comic relief. The great affection between the two characters is obvious, but so is the fact that Carly is ready for Poppy to move on. 

The reader can also feel Poppy's confusion as her feelings for Julia begin to develop and she feels that she is somehow betraying the relationship she had with Carly. Julia provides a perfect character study as the woman who wants to love Poppy, but is afraid she will never be able to live up to what Poppy had before. 

Vali shows herself to be a talented writer in how she tells her story and presents her characters. Whether or not the reader has ever experienced such a loss, you will feel empathy with the characters and know that you've read a good book.

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