Sometimes, one of the perks of this blog – in addition to all the AMAZING people I meet through it – is that publishers send me book to review . . . for FREE. Good golly. Free books. That’s speaking my love language people. So a couple of weeks ago, I got a copy of Katherine Sherbrooke’s Fill the Sky in the mail, and I knew I’d enjoy it immediately because, as I said when I reviewed about The Distant Hours, I love books about women and their relationships to one another. Sherbrooke’s novel – forthcoming on October 20th – doesn’t disappoint.
Think Beaches but in Ecuador.
Three friends have traveled from the States to South America to seek traditional treatments for the cancer that Ellie is dying from. They’ve known each other since college, so these relationships are longer than those with almost everyone else in their lives, including their partners, and when the trip becomes entangled with all the other parts of their lives – business, marriage, childhood – they find themselves working through some very messy knots that threaten decades of friendship.
When Healing Is A Character
I was immediately reminded of Hope Edelman’s memoir The Possibility of Everything when I began reading these pages because of the central theme of healing and the turn to traditional practices to find it. In Edelman’s work, I was absolute enthralled and inspired by those treatments, and I found myself to be equally drawn in here. I definitely am more a skeptic of Western medicine than I realize, I guess.
But more, I was captivated by the way that healing – both of body and spirit – is part of every story. Whether it’s healing from grief or from illness, from betrayal or from guilt, this book explores it all without being sappy or over-simplistic. In fact, the ending of the novel is pitch-perfect for just those reasons. (Don’t worry. I won’t say more.)
The Writer’s Eye View
As a writer, I was absolutely gripped by Sherbrooke’s choice to use the points of view of each of the three main characters, Joline, Tess, and Ellie, to give us a rich, complex view of what is happening. Yet, she doesn’t slip into the dangerous territory of retelling the plot from each perspective. Instead, we move from woman to woman as the story goes forward, so we get a story that reads as genuine, as true to our experience.
Additionally, Sherbrooke has written three main characters who are both endearing and infuriating. I personally did not care for Tess, but she is brilliant and wise, and I could see why her friends loved her. Others, I expect, will find themselves drawn or moving away from the other characters based on our life experiences, but all of them are beautifully-wrought, flawed, engaging characters. That’s a testament to Sherbrooke’s skill.
If you appreciate books set in rich settings where you have the opportunity to understand a culture that is new to you, if you like novels with strong, female protagonists that are imperfect but still endearing, if you would like to read an uplifting (but not sappy) cancer story, if you would like to see a writer use multiply points of view with smoothness and ease, or if you just appreciate a book about women’s relationships and the way they give us strength, this book is for you.
Get your copy here:
You can also download the first two chapters of Fill the Sky at Sherbrooke’s website.
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