Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Seeking Sara Summers by Susan Gabriel

Publisher:            Wild Lily Arts

Seeking Sara Summers is an intelligent story about a woman who has to overcome a number of serious obstacles to discover who she truly is.

Sara Summers didn't set out to have an unusual life.  She married her high school boyfriend Grady, became a teacher and had three children.  She has good friends and is well-thought of in her profession and her community, so she assumed her life was going just fine.  Breast cancer changed all of that.  As happens, the threat of death has caused her to reassess her life, especially now that the cancer has returned.  She finds herself in a twenty-five year marriage that isn't working and her career is no longer satisfying.  She hasn't told her family about the cancer and she needs to make some decisions about treatment, but she can't focus on those issues.  When she reconnects with a childhood friend Julia David, Sara decides to go to Italy and visit her.  This may be the only chance she has to take her dream vacation.  She and Julia always had a special relationship and as they tour the Italian countryside, Sara discovers things about herself that she never realized.  Life is never simple though and despite the fact that she knows where her heart lies, Sara returns to her family to fight the cancer and try to make that situation work.  The question is whether that will be enough now that she has a deeper understanding of herself.

Sara's story is easy to understand.  She's spent her whole life doing what was expected of her and now she knows it's not what she really wanted.  If she is to die, she doesn't want to do it with the knowledge that she just existed.  Sara discovers a chance for real happiness with Julia, but it flies in the face of everything she's been taught is proper by society.  She finds herself in a battle between her heart, her spirit and her head and even when she feels instinctively that it isn't right, she's drawn to the safe decision. How many people have found themselves in a similar position turning from what feels true to do what conformity dictates?  This isn't like many novels where decisions are easily made.  Sara thinks and struggles her way through what she is experiencing in every aspect of her life trying to finally discover who she truly is and what she wants.

Seeking Sara Summers is written in just the right tone.  The emotional scenes aren't overwrought and the interactions between Sara, Grady and Julia feel very real.  The language of the book is almost as beautiful as the scenery of the Italian countryside it's set against.  This is a rich book, well worth reading.  The reader will come away wishing that Sara had realized so much earlier what she wanted, but understanding her choices completely.  Many women will be able to identify with her experience.

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