Before I get going, how about a small update on what’s up in my world. For one, it’s November, so you know I’m writing a book right now for NaNoWriMo. But it’s not just any book. I’m still working on For the Birds, so when Nov. 1 came along, I just continued where I’d left off. Yup, I’m using this time to continue on a novel already in progress, and it’s been just the kick in the pants I’ve needed to write this story a little faster than I have been.
That said, I think I prefer slower writing. I mean, duh. It’s kind of nice to just leisurely tinker on a novel, and to always sound like I’m living this romantic lifestyle of a novelist as I tell people about the book I’m writing. And I love going back to edit as I write, because it means I’m writing a cleaner first draft that will be easy to edit for real. But at some point, I need to finish this book, so this whole write 50K in 30 days thing is speeding things along. It’s a mess, and I’ll have my work cut out for me when I edit, but dang it, but Dec. 1, I will have a completed first draft!
Right before I started NaNoWriMo, I took a break from writing so that I’d be fresh on Nov. 1. And in that time, I picked up Tiffanie DeBartolo’s newly released book, Sorrow. And wow, I am so glad I did. Her writing is just exquisite, and there were so many moments when I felt like she was teaching a masterclass on how to build connection between characters, experience the setting, amp up the angst, and truly immerse the reader into the story. When I read the final chapter, I closed the book and had to stop reading anything for a couple days. You guys, book hangovers are real, and this one gave me a doozy. I just wanted to live in it for a while. It affected me that deeply.
Along with a gorgeous story and beautiful writing, I had personal reasons for loving this book. Tiffanie DeBartolo lives in Mill Valley, which is just a short drive away from where I live in Petaluma, and she used her home for the setting of the story. So when she described the redwoods, the local places, the feel of the town, I could smell, feel, and experience it, too, because it felt like home. But even if I didn’t live here, I would know it. DeBartolo made the setting almost like another character, so that when Joe hugs a tree and tells it he loves it, you can’t help also loving that tree.
There was also the nod to a certain live art exhibit that was recreated in the story, and I recall how much the news of that exhibit affected me, and then again as I read DeBartolo’s creation of it within the story. I really want to talk about this. I wish I could talk about this. But I feel like if I did, it would spoil a really poignant part of the story. So if you know what I’m talking about, you know. If you don’t, read the book and have a good cry about it.
And then there’s the set up of the main character, how we learn all the things that broke him and his response to all of it, and how these broken parts of him become such an integral part of the story, and the well where heartbreak is born from. Out of this place comes this impossible love story where the whole world will fall apart if these two come together, but oh. my. god. I won’t be able to breathe until they kiss, and who cares if the world falls apart, let it all burn.
DeBartolo took my breath away and shattered my heart when I read her book God Shaped Hole, and so I went into this knowing I’d be changed. I had no idea how much, though. I count Sorrow in my top five books I’ve read this year. I know I’ll read it again, possibly soon. I’m already plotting who will be getting this from me for Christmas.
This book. Read it.