“With poetic prose, lyrical descriptions, and sensory details . . . this story dives into the Gulf Coast culture of pecan orchards and debutante balls, exposing layers of family secrets and sins. In the end comes redemption, grace, forgiveness, and faith. Bravo!” Julie Cantrell, New York Times bestselling authorWealth and etiquette can hide a lot of things in the South, as the esteemed Harlan family of sleepy Bay Spring, Alabama, knows. But behind the gentle facade of white pillared porches and acres of cultivated pecan orchards, family secrets smolder.Young Anniston Harlan cares little for high society and the rigid rules and expectations of her grandmother, Princella. She finds solace working the orchards alongside her father and grandfather, and relief in the cool waters of Mobile Bay.Anniston’s aunt, Comfort Harlan, has never quite lived up to the family name, or so her mother Princella’s ever-apparent scowl implies. When she gleefully accepts the proposal of her longtime boyfriend, Solly, a flood tide of tragedy ensues that strips Comfort of her innocence and unleashes generations of family secrets, changing the Harlan family forever.While Comfort struggles to recover, Anniston discovers an unlikely new friend from the seedy part of town who helps her try to make sense of the chaos. Together, they and the whole town of Bay Spring discover how true love is a risk, but one worth taking.
|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)|
Read an Excerpt
I thought I'd lived through everything by the time I was thirteen.
Hurricane Frederic nearly wiped the southern part of Alabama off the map that fall, and half of our family's pecan orchards along with it. Daddy said we were lucky — that the Miller pecan farm down the road lost everything. The Puss 'n' Boots Cat Food factory supplied our whole town of Bay Spring with ice and water for nearly a week until the power and phones came back on along the coast of Mobile Bay. Anyone who could hold a hammer or start up a chain saw spent weeks cutting up all the uprooted trees and azaleas, pounding down new shingles, and cleaning up all that God, in His infinite fury, blew through our land. Like most folks who lived along the coast, we'd find a way to build back up — if we weren't fooled into thinking the passing calm of the eye meant the storm was over.
If I'd only known this about Hurricane Frederic — that the drudging months leading up to Thanksgiving would be the only peace we'd see for some time. Weren't no weathermen or prophets with megaphones standing on top of the Piggly Wiggly Saturday mornings to shout warnings of storms and second comings to us.
The only warning was the twitch of my grandmother's eye.
"Happy Thanksgiving!" Mama, Daddy, and I said in unison.
Princella pulled the front door open to let us in, kissing us each coolly on the cheek as we passed. Her graying hair was twisted into a tight, smooth bun on top of her head, and a purple suede pantsuit hung on her too-thin frame.
"Thank you. Oralee, Ernestine will help y'all take that food on to the kitchen."
"How are you, Mother?" Daddy had grouched around the house all morning as we readied ourselves to go to the big house.
"Why, I'm fine. Thank you, Rey. Your father is in his den." Princella nodded toward the book-lined room to the left of the foyer.
I followed Daddy. Though I loved peeling potatoes and painting butter on yeast rolls as they came steaming out of the oven, I didn't feel like being around Princella, who preferred I call her by her proper name, saying she felt too young to be called Grandma. I couldn't figure her out. Then again, who could? Mama called her an enigma. I called her old and bitter.
The thick, wide shoulders of my granddaddy, Vaughn, filled every inch of the leather chair behind his desk. Wire-rimmed spectacles sat on the tip of his nose, and he rubbed his neatly trimmed mustache as he concentrated on the thick ledger open in front of him. As soon as he saw Daddy, he got up and threw his arms around him hard, patting him on the back. "Good to see you, Rey."
"You too, Daddy."
"And how's Miss Anniston today?"
"Fine, sir." The sun caught on the silver bevels of a sword sitting on Vaughn's big wood desk, sending shards of light dancing across the walls and ceiling.
"Wow, I haven't seen that in a long time." Daddy gently picked up the sword and let his fingers glide along the blade, down to the tip and back again. Carvings of horses and soldiers wrapped around the thick handle.
"My granddaddy gave me that sword. Belonged to his granddaddy, Gabriel Harlan, from before the war." Vaughn picked up the case, the name Harlan inscribed deep into the worn, cracked leather. "I intended to wait until later, but I might as well give it to you now."
Surprise spread across Daddy's face, ruddy from all the days working outside in the orchards, but softened by the kindness in his eyes, which were heavy with the love I saw when he read to me each night, even still, before bedtime. "I always thought this belonged to Cole next."
Vaughn stood up and peered out the window overlooking the orchards. "Granddaddy helped Gabriel plant most of these. Helped him plant the trees, babying them until they pulled in a crop. While they waited for the trees to yield enough to live off of, Gabriel oystered and fished and worked for lumber companies, making an honest living and providing for everyone — including the freed slaves — who lived on this land. One of only a few abolitionists back then, he paid his black workers a fair wage, sometimes choosing them over white workers who needed a job, and at the expense of ridicule and putting his family in danger. He retired from the Confederate Army before the war, so he never fought in it. Granddaddy told stories about how Gabriel wouldn't have fought in that war if he'd died refusing, because he hated slavery so." He turned to face Daddy. "He stood up for what was right and for the weak. Raised me to do the same. And that's how I believe I've raised you."
Vaughn held his hand up, and to my surprise, a tear rolled down the side of his face as he kept talking. "Been thinking a lot about this family lately, how I done you and your sister, Comfort, a disservice over the years by feeling sorry for Cole. Listening to your mother when she said I was too harsh with him, when harsh was what he needed. I felt sorry for him, I suppose, not having his real daddy around. I never listened to you or your sister, or anyone for that matter, who voiced concern about his choices and actions. And now I see those actions have taken a toll on all of you, and I'm sorry for that. I brought him in and raised him as my own — and I would do it again — but you and Comfort ... You're my flesh and blood."
He took the sword from Daddy's hands and slid it into the leather case. "When my daddy gave Gabriel's sword to me, he said it stood for peace, not war. That it should be given to the firstborn son, a son raised to believe in freedom. Someone who will fight injustice with courage and truth."
Quiet fell over the room, except for the ticktock of the grandfather clock in the hallway.
"Take it, Son. Will you?"
"What's going on in here?" Princella's unexpected voice struck us like a whip across our bare backs. "What are you doing, Vaughn? That's Cole's sword."
Vaughn walked right up close to Princella until he stood about an inch from her face. "Something I shoulda done a long time ago."
My aunt, Comfort, and her longtime boyfriend, Solly, burst through the study door, giggling like a couple of kids my age. But their faces fell when they saw Princella and Vaughn standing there in obvious disagreement.
"I'm — I'm sorry. Were we interrupting?"
Princella turned sharp and stomped out of the room.
"Sorry, Solly. You're fine," Vaughn said. "Please come in."
"Welcome to the festivities," Daddy simpered.
"Comfort!" I ran and hugged her despite the tension I felt in the air.
"Hey, darlin'," Comfort said in a tempered voice, hugging me back. Despite my affection for T-shirts, boy shorts, and flip-flops, her outfit, as usual, was to die for. Beneath a striped, fringed poncho, she wore flared white trousers, a bright-orange halter top, and orange plastic platform shoes that matched. Her hair was done up in a high bun tied with a matching orangeand-white scarf that trailed down her back.
"What about me? Don't I get a hug from my girl?" Solly, a burly fellow with curly dark hair that fell over his ears and glasses, caught Daddy's eye as he yanked me into a bear hug. He looked handsome as ever, dressed in what appeared to be a brand-new pair of jeans, a plaid button-down Western shirt, a black cowboy hat, and black boots.
Thank goodness they came when they did. If Princella wanted to be in a snit, fine. But with Comfort and Solly there to brighten the mood, maybe she wouldn't ruin the whole of Thanksgiving Day.
Excerpted from "How Sweet the Sound"
Copyright © 2017 Amy K. Sorrells.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A brilliant first novel by Amy Sorrells! It only took a few pages to fall in love with the characters and be swept away by the beautiful story. This is a hope-infused tale loosely based on the biblical account of Tamar. Sorrells breaks the silence of the reality of rape and incest while providing protected space for solace and understanding. The short chapters makes it easy to pick up and read, but I honestly had a difficult time putting it down. Each chapter begins with a sentimental quote providing a tasty morsel to launch into each section. The characters are well-developed and believable. My heart will be forever moved by Anniston, Comfort, Jed, Sonny, and Ernestine. Sorrells portrays a realistic Southern setting in the lovely pecan plantation of the Harlan family. A remarkable first work by a true artisan of words, emotions, and poetry...
Sort of a Fried Green Tomatoes meets Bridge to Tarabithia, with a dash of scripture, in a crockpot of Southern Christian spirituality. Excellent read. A story about mountains and valleys... A story about how nobody gets through this life without hurting, yet how God's grace can carry us through life's rough patches... A story about reconciliation. Poignant and real. If you've been a victim of abuse or know someone (isn't that pretty much all of us?), it's worth a read.
First of all, isn’t this cover beautiful? I love the soft colors, they draw me in. As lovely as the cover is the real treasure lies inside. This is my kind of book, my kind of story, my kind of healing and redemption. This is much more than a novel, it is a voice for those who have suffered under the hands of abuse. It’s a song for those who have lost their melody under the weight of their shame. So many times in this book I wanted to cry. There are many powerful moments, sentences that stopped me in my tracks and had me praising or praying or simply saying “Yes.” Amy is an extremely talented author who has a very real grasp of the pain of abuse, the silence and deceit that follows. Her words are lyrical and drenched in the Spirit. I loved so much the conversations that Comfort had with Abba. The words Amy wrote are words Abba has spoken over me like a healing balm for my wounded soul. And even though Anni is only thirteen I could still relate to her. I so wanted her to find hope and for the truth to come out. In revealing truth there is freedom. I could say so much more about this book but I will stop here. You need to check this one out. A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher through the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance in exchange for an honest review.
Talk about a dysfunctional family! The Harlan clan defines the word. This is a dark tale of rape and incest--the opposite of a fluffy read. Based on the biblical story of Tamar who was raped and told to keep it quiet, one of the characters suffers years of abuse while heads are turned away. With no one to comfort her, she thinks less and less of herself. Chapters are written in first-person with the voices of two characters: Anniston (Anni) and Comfort. By writing with this two-narrator structure, the author allows the reader to see the story from two perspectives. I liked this and thought it helped me dig into the "meat" of the novel. I felt closely to both characters. Discussion questions are included along with several Southern recipes. It might be a good choice for a book club to read, followed by a supper using the recipes found at the book's end. Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and David C. Cook for my copy.
Excellent enriching novel. You may feel that you've known each character your entire life. Enjoy!!!
Wonderful story and characters
Comfort will break your heart to hear her story of incest and sexual abuse. The story of Tamar in the Bible is brought to life in this amazing story. How can a mother ignore her son's sins and make a hero out of him? How can Anni who is 13 find the loss of her father that Cole took from her, the loss of her beloved Aunt Comfort, the loss of her home life, when her whole life falls apart because of one selfish life...Cole. Read this amazing story how God's redemption and love can change lives. I couldn't put this book down.
This book was told from varying points of view. It takes down south. The editing was very good. It has around 285 pages. There is a lot of crisis, saddness, some religion, no sex, no cursing. There are family ties, love that binds, first love and first kisses. Family secrets should never be kept hidden, to forgive is to love, live and heal. This book also containd, rape, murder, child sexual abuse, violence and murder caused by the the insanity of meaness, and murder caused from protecting loved ones. There is one of the meanest grand mothers to ever wear a girdle and Solly, a loving, forgiving Saint of a man. Anni is 13 and the author protrayed her perfectly. This book takes place from 1979 to 1981. It ia absolutely fantastic. I loved it. I hope there is a sequal. I am looking forward to seeing what else this author has wrote. For ages 16 and up. You do not want to miss this one. AD
read this book in a little over 48 hours!
Cole rey ggunshot brother incedt comfort solly jed jubilee and the girl ani