I did not expect this, nor did I see this coming; I’m having major flashbacks. This book involving a devout Mormon family struck close to home with my own involvement in a similar faith-by-works religious organization. The brothers, the sisters (neither bound by blood, but by religion)…even the table-side prayers: it all rung so true—frighteningly so.
I have seen and have been lured by the same dogma and devotion that causes fathers, like Issy’s here, to forsake the natural bond of family for the greater cause of the organization. Author Carys Bray captures that motivation and feeling so well. I would say it is impossible not to feel the pull and tug of emotion, despite whether you were involved in something similar or not. The writing is organized, striking, and powerful.
As with any family or group of friends, it is sad that tragedy turns on the true light of the heart. Sadness is prevalent throughout A SONG FOR ISSY BRADLEY; it is that raw emotion that acts as the catalyst for characterial change.
Similar to characters of THE POISONWOOD BIBLE, each character here represents their own struggles and interpretations of both the Bible and The Book of Mormon. Bray did an excellent job of pulling out the scriptures, their meanings, and with it showing how individuals, especially children, can and do interpret those scriptures. Bray beautifully portrays the consequences of interpretation as well. Again, tragedy as a catalyst works perfectly.
(It is tragedy that kicked my own mind into gear and enabled me to leave that aforementioned organization of my own involvement, finding truer belief and faith.)
Folks, this is a great piece of writing that speaks of the heart’s ability to change and of the true meanings of life. Thanks Ballentine and Random House for sharing this with me for review.
You can find this book’s previews and other reviews on Amazon: A Song for Issy Bradley: A Novel
Or, you can find this book on Powell’s: