Book Review: The Indelible Heart by Marianne K. Martin

Book Details:

File Size: 411 KB
Print Length: 232 pages
Publisher: Bywater Books
Publication Date: July 19, 2011
Text-to-Speech: Enabled

Book Summary:

Twelve years ago, Charlie Crawford shot dead his two lesbian neighbors. Now he’s terminally ill and requesting early release from prison.

Back then, Sharon and her friends fought to bring him to justice. Now she has to find the strength to fight again. But the man who killed her friends also took her sobriety. And with it he took her partner, Laura. Sober again, all Sharon has left is a life she’s just about surviving.

She’ll do what she can to keep Charlie in jail. But it’s hard—really hard—to cope with the news that Laura’s back in town.

Hate has spoiled Sharon’s world. There just doesn’t seem any place for love. But she’s forgotten just how powerful friendship can be. She’ll soon remember.

Indelible is the inspiring sequel to the best-selling Love in the Balance.

About the Author:

Marianne K. Martin is the best-selling author of Legacy of Love, Love in the Balance, Never Ending, Dawn of the Dance, Dance in the Key of Love, and three Lambda Literary Award finalists, Mirrors, Under the Witness Tree, and For Now, For Always. Her most recent book, The Indelible Heart, was awarded the 2012 International Book Award and the Global Ebook Award. Her short stories have been included in a number of anthologies. The most recent, Fire and Ice, appears in the second edition of the on-line issue of Read These Lips.

Marianne is co-owner of Bywater Books, and was recently honored with the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Trailblazer award for her work in advancing the causes of women and the LGBT community.

For more information about the author go to: http://www.bywaterbooks.com

Book Review:

The Indelible Heart takes on a lot of emotional and interpersonal issues including depression, anger, substance abuse, love, personal boundaries, balance, healing, forgiveness, etc. all amongst the backdrop of historic hate crime legislation initiatives in Michigan.

Ten years after the murder of her friends Evonne and Donna at the hands of their next door neighbor, in what was clearly a hate crime but not initially seen as such, Sharon Davis is still having a difficult time coping in her life. Her chronic anxiety and depression are renewed and perhaps even exacerbated by attempts from the family of convicted murderer Charlie Crawford to try and get him released from prison because he is an elderly dying man.

It’s not that Sharon Davis can’t move on, but more that she unconsciously doesn’t seem to want to leave the past behind. Even her most loyal and closest friends are struggling to get Sharon to wake up to the reality she’s created for herself. As a protagonist, Sharon is both charismatic and polarizing. People are drawn to her for her ability to lead and use her voice in social activism effectively and with great force, but in most other areas her life is one hot mess because she seems unwilling to move beyond the tragedy of her friends’ deaths.

Healing ultimately comes in the form of a four-legged friend named Abby—a small dog inherited from an oblivious neighbor who only consents to give the dog to Sharon when the animal is badly hurt in a car accident. Nursing Abby back to health becomes the catalyst for Sharon’s own healing as she initially works in concert with the owner of the car that has caused Abby’s physical wounds.

Being of service to Abby and giving and receiving unconditional love also helps Sharon to overcome the other major obstacle in her life—the loss of her great love, Laura. Although most of her friends oppose any reunion between Sharon and Laura as it resulted in Sharon’s spiral into alcoholism and general dysfunction, her reconnection to Laura becomes an important symbol of Sharon’s new found balance in her life, although the terms and boundaries of their new union is yet to be decided. The point is—Sharon is back on the right path in all areas of her life and ready to take on new responsibilities professionally and emotionally.

Sharon’s wounds clearly go deeper than physical pain. Why she feels more deeply and passionately about the death of her friends than the rest of her close group of friends wasn’t completely clear. It’s important to note that we are evaluating The Indelible Heart as a stand alone novel although it’s technically a sequel set ten years later. The novel is well written and can act as an independent work, but it does require the reader to draw a few conclusions on their own without the benefit of character familiarity and back story.

For example, murdered couple Evonne and Donna were important visible standout leaders in the gay community. Perhaps part of Sharon’s difficulty in coming to terms with their death deals with taking on the mantle of their leadership—a kind of passing of the torch before she was ready to assume her de facto position within the activist community.

The other couples in the extended friendship play roles ranging from supporting to almost superfluous. As Sharon’s best friend and business partner, Kasey is the main bell weather for the frustration Sharon’s friends feel about her. Connie is Kasey’s warm and wise life partner who seems to have little purpose beyond being a calming influence. And then there’s Sage and Deanna, whose role in this novel beyond being part of their group seemed completely unnecessary.

There is a minor subplot about a portion of Sage and Deanna’s extended family moving closer to them, but this story line didn’t seem to mesh with the primary focal point of Sharon’s personal journey of healing and emotional maturation. Once again this is most likely due to reading The Indelible Heart without corresponding knowledge or context for the first book in the series.

The Indelible Heart is a good novel that flows well and is an easy read. There are a few noteworthy powerful yet poignant moments, particularly when Sharon meets with a family member of the convicted murderer. The author does a great job of showing all sides of the story with good character development.

It truly is a feat for readers to embrace Sharon and her many rough edges, but the author manages to not only make Sharon likable  but also believable as she steps into her role as community leader with a new found wisdom and compassion. If you are looking for a book that encompasses drama, a little romance with a timely tale of real life social and political events, The Indelible Heart won’t disappoint.

This book was reviewed as part of the Wise Bear Digital Book Awards competition. Entry fees associated with the contest are administrative in nature and do not influence our honest, unbiased book reviews.

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