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The Laws of Harmony: A Novel Paperback – February 10, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Satisfying psychological depth and original characters help move along Hendricks's clumsily plotted latest. Sunny Cooper still has problems with Gwen, her mother. Raised on a New Mexico commune, Sunny now lives in Albuquerque with her boyfriend, Michael, doing voice-over work. When Michael is killed in a mysterious accident, Sunny discovers he was not who she thought he was, and creditors and cops inundate her. Looking for solace, Sunny heads back to the commune, where she finds her mother to be the same maddening hippie chick she always was. Again, fed up and out of options, Sunny decides to sell everything and leave, this time for San Miguel Island off the coast of Washington, where, in a little town called Harmony, she tries to rebuild her life. But events from her past follow her to the island, and before long she's heading off-island for some closure. Hendricks's gentle humor and vivid depictions of island and communal life put a little sugar on the unfortunate and overbusy plot. (Feb.)
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“Hendricks has an engaging narrative voice that will pull readers right into this story of a damaged woman who is more resilient than she realizes.” (Booklist)
“[Hendricks] calls to mind Barbara Kingsolver in her affinity for wise women and the power of close female friendships.” (Booklist)
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Sunny Cooper grew up in a New Mexico commune, one of three children born to hippie parents who were into free love, alcohol and drugs, and a rejection of material possessions. Wanting nothing more than to not share living quarters with twenty-five of her closest friends, when she turned 18 years old she left, hoping to live a more "normal" life style. This novel starts out with her in her early 30s and dealing with a romantic relationship that isn't going well. What he wants, she seems unable to give. The relationship is falling apart and she is at a loss to understand how to repair it. While this background may lead you to believe this is a romance novel, it is far from that. The relationship is just a springboard for us to understand Sunny and how life has unfolded for her. Some suspense, some women's fiction, and a tiny bit of romance come together to create a wonderful whole that will appeal to many readers.
I have spent the past several years on a tear to clean out and de-clutter my home and have given away many books but Ms. Hendricks' three previous novels still sit on my bookshelf - I just can't let go of them. Fortunately, I bought this one for my Kindle so it won't take up any room and I will always have it since it is definitely worth a re-read. Her writing is absolutely seamless and what I mean by that is that it is so good and she draws you so totally into the novel that the story is just like a film playing in my head and the words just disappear off of the page. My only complaint is that she has only written four novels over the years and I would love to read more.
If you like writers like Elizabeth Berg and Anne Tyler, please give Judith Hendricks a try. Wonderful book, wonderful author.
It is the story of Sunny Cooper...and her family and her relationships with a best friend and a not so sincere fiance. It is the story of giving up ties that hold you in one spot and totally beginning again in a new location. It was wonderful and magical and totally absorbing. It was unique and different. This book drew me in to the lives of so many different fascinating characters. I loved every minute of it and couldn't even believe that it ended when it did...I wanted more!!! There is something magical about the way Judith Ryan Hendricks tells a story...I have read and loved each of her books...from Bread Alone to this one...and eagerly await the arrival of the next one...