Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Women's Fiction
The New York Times bestselling author of A Long Time Gone now explores a Southern family’s buried history, which will change the life of the woman who unearths it, secret by shattering secret.
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.
Why do I keep reading these books? I knew pretty early on that this one would end in tears, but I couldn’t stop reading. I was entrenched in the multi-faceted plot from the beginning and even though this book dealt with a topic that usually crushes me, I was so moved by Karen White’s rich story that I had to read it.
This novel was heartbreaking. I’m pretty spent right now because I’ve been crying for the last hour, relieving the tension I held inside while reading. The Sound of Glass is a book about sisterhood, family, strength, regret and hope. It’s a beautiful fiction that portrays some of real life’s pain and heartbreak, but it shows that even though we might be thrown by the waves and take a beating, we can withstand the tumult and we’re stronger than we think.
It begins with a scene set in the past. It’s the 1950’s and a housewife is at home with her son – relieved that her insufferable husband is out – when she hears an explosion and then something crash on her roof. The explosion is the sound of a plane crashing and the events that follow her discovery of a single item that survived the wreck begins a chain of events that spans generations.
This novel has some elements of mystery since the secrets discovered on that pivotal night play a key role in the story, but ultimately The Sound of Glass is a character driven story about the secrets kept in a family and how they can seep into our makeup, passing from child to child, and cause an immense amount of pain and heartbreak.
The main character is Merritt and she is a recent widow who moves to the south to live in her late husband’s family home. Not long after she arrives, she finds out that she didn’t really know her husband that well. Merritt moved to start over and to forget about her painful past – one she survived long before she met her husband – but any hope of peaceful solitude is ruined when her irritating stepmother, Loralee, and younger brother, knocks on her door. Loralee is a recent widow as well. and in order to help assuage her son’s grief, she moved them across states to build a relationship with the stepdaughter who’s refused to acknowledge their existence for over a decade. As the two women settle in to the old house, they discover more about this family’s tragic and violent past and Merritt learns the truths about herself and her husband that she’s always hid from.
The novel is told from Merritt and Loralee with a few crucial flashback scenes told from Edith’s POV. Each woman is different, each has her own pain, and each taught me a different lesson. The Sound of Glass features very complex characters, and based on your own perceptions, you’ll either empathize with what they’re going through or you’ll be unsympathetic to them. I don’t think there’s an in-between. In some ways the characters are cliché, but I think that’s only on the surface. When I looked deeper, I saw realness in all of them and couldn’t help but feel emotional for them. Karen White created a truly moving and heartrending novel. It’s one of those books I feel like I needed to read.