REVIEW: Dancing with the Sun
DANCING WITH THE SUN by Kay Bratt explores grief, survival, faith, renewal, and love in an exciting adventure at Yosemite National Park.
Sadie’s husband is once again off camping, leaving her home alone. Not that she minds being alone. She seems to just exist these days, especially since her adopted daughter Lauren is away at college.
But this is the celebration of the day they brought Lauren home from China. Tom seems to be even more distant and she has no idea where he’s at. Plus, his favorite slippers and more than a normal amount of his clothes are gone. Has he moved out and on to someone else?
Sadie spontaneously books a flight to go see her daughter, who is interning in California at Yosemite National Park during college. She surprises her with a request to pick her up at the airport, not even considering that her daughter might have other plans. Will Lauren remember this is her special day?
Tom and Sadie were so in love when they started the adoption proceedings for Lauren. They knew instantly she was meant to be their daughter and would make them a happy family of four. During the long process of the adoption, they tragically lose their eleven-year-old son, Jacob, in a camping accident.
Sadie secretly blames Tom for their son’s death, almost as much as she blames herself. Tom urges her to seek counseling, but Sadie lives on in her grief, filling the years caring for their daughter.
When Sadie arrives in California, Lauren surprises her with a stop at Yosemite for a hike she insists they take. She has news for her mom and wants to tell her when they reach their destination. Sadie just wants her hotel and a shower to ease the aches of travel from her Fibromyalgia. Besides, she has avoided the outdoors since Jacob’s death.
Sadie begs Lauren to reconsider but she’s determined. She wants to share her news with her mom here. Sadie has news, too, but she’s sure Lauren isn’t going to like it. What child at any age appreciates hearing their parents are splitting up?
Lauren wins the argument and grabs her backpack, insisting they don’t need much for this short walk. Sadie grabs a bottle of water, her mace, and some gum. Little do they know that this little walk will change their lives forever.
Sadie holds on to her grief like armor. Although she loves her daughter and tried to make her life perfect, she never takes true joy from anything. Lauren grew up experiencing the outdoors with her dad. She loves both her parents but doesn’t really know her mom.
This little walk in the woods will test their endurance and their faith. In each other, as much as in God. As the two women try to survive an accident, they realize how much they have to live for – if only they can find their way out of the wilderness.
My thoughts and ramblings…
Last year was a tough year for me and books like this one got me through it. Unfortunately, my creative voice was held captive, struggling to remember what I read and then, what to say about it. I take my review promises seriously. I love the privilege of reading books prior to publication in order to spread the word to other readers. It’s my passion.
But sometimes life throws you lemons and you just have to figure out the easiest way to make lemonade. That was me last year as I struggled with chronic pancreatitis, enduring five trips to the emergency room. I had no idea what I was suffering from – it was diagnosed as food allergies, but the allergist couldn’t figure it out. Finally, I discovered it was margarine – something many restaurants use in their cooking.
I use butter or sunflower oil at home, sparingly, because I faced one acute episode of pancreatitis years ago, when a doctor overdosed me on calcium and I almost died. Unknowingly, I had an underlying illness called hyperparathyroidism that caused my calcium depletion the doctor tried to fix. Exploratory surgery healed me, but I’m still careful. Who knew that a pancreas could be enraged by margarine, or that restaurants use this processed food nightmare? I do now!
So, it was during one of these many episodes that I read this book the first time, and then promptly forgot to write any notes, or my final thoughts in order to write the review. I knew I loved it, but what to say? Which is why I read it again. And I loved it just as much, even though I knew how it would end.
The characters’ tension in dealing with being lost in the wilderness is some of the best part of the book. That says a lot that I enjoyed reading it again, when I knew all their answers to their problems. It was still exciting reliving it with them.
I’m rating this book as high as I can because there wasn’t anything that I didn’t like. It’s wilderness survival – my favorite theme. It has good emotion, even if it’s not a romance in the strictest terms. It is about relationships – Lauren’s mom and dad’s rocky marriage, as well as Lauren’s growing relationship with her boyfriend. But that’s not the focus. The mother/daughter growth was the highlight. Overcoming grief was a huge part of this book, so if you’re recovering yourself, tread lightly. It’s positive in the end, but it’s also heartrending.
The second time I read this, I realized how much I had in common with the characters. Like Lauren’s mom, I have Fibromyalgia. Like Lauren and Tom, I love the outdoors, plus hiking and camping. Sadie knows how her illness messes with activities like hiking, and I do, too. Although I haven’t let it stop me from doing everything I love, it does limit me from realizing my dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail.
I understand the pain Sadie feels and how she overcomes it to save herself and her daughter. I think it’s that same endurance and hope that has brought me through my health issues. Let alone the strength I’ve needed facing my husband’s stage four cancer diagnosis. We’re finally both headed to recovery, thank God!
Thanks to Barbara Claypole White for reviewing this book first, and putting this pretty cover in my face, so I’d pay attention. I get so many great book suggestions from Barbara, who also writes great books!
Kay Bratt writes stories that delve deep into her characters’ heart and soul. She made me cry both times I read this book, but it was a cathartic cry. Her special talent of taking what I think and feel, then putting it on paper, brings me great joy. I can feel the wilderness around me as if I’m there. That’s such a great gift to someone who has always dreamed of thru-hiking, knowing my body will never survive it.
So, write-on Kay Bratt – I’ll keep dreaming of adventures through your books. DANCING WITH THE SUN is a beautiful journey through what makes us human. All our fears and emotion make us who we are, but we have to remember to dance with the sun. Maybe that’s why sunflowers are my favorite, and Kay Bratt is a new favorite new-to-me author.
Review by Dorine, courtesy of TheZestQuest.com. A digital advanced copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review. For another great book by Kay Bratt, read WISH ME HOME. Thanks in advance for following links and sharing this review on social media.
Dancing with the Sun by Kay Bratt
Category: Suspenseful Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (November 27, 2018)
Rated 5 out of 5, Recommend!