Today I am going to be sharing with you a spoiler-free review of Sorrow by author, rock & roll music executive and film-director, Tiffanie DeBartolo. I was sent an Advanced Reader Copy by the publishing company Books Forward in exchange for my honest opinions/thoughts. Published on October 20th; this novel has been out for a couple of months now and so worth purchasing. I’m extremely honoured that Tiffanie and Books Forward contacted me. If you wish to order a copy, please click here. Also, keep an eye out for an upcoming interview with the author. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Joe Harper has backpedaled throughout his life. A once-promising guitar prodigy, he’s been living without direction since abandoning his musical dreams. Now into his thirties, having retreated from every opportunity he’s had to level up, he’s lost his family, best friend and his own self-respect. But Joe finds an unlikely path to redemption when he starts working as a carpenter for the bohemian conceptual artist October Danko. The job returns him to his hometown – loaded with bittersweet reminders of his former life – in the shadows of his beloved redwood trees. As Joe’s relationship with October develops, he yearns to take a daring step toward a bold future, but struggles to escape the craven decisions of his past…
Despite the shorter length, this novel has the most outstanding character development I have ever witnessed in my own personal reading history. The Joe Harper we meet at the beginning of the novel is not the same man we leave at the end. What I loved about Joe was how flawed and deeply insecure he was. His vulnerability made him such a relatable figure to follow. I was disappointed and proud of him at the same time; depending on his actions. We get a strong sense of Joe’s upbringing and how the important players in his life shaped the direction he took both professionally and romantically. Through flashbacks, we witness the chances Joe was presented with and rejected out of fear. When he is thrust into a tragic love triangle, Joe is once again faced with the opportunity to follow his heart or give into his familiar instincts to run away.
October – who plays Joe’s love interest and boss – has a unique gift named Mirror Touch Synesthesia. She is able to experience sensations that emanate from others nearby; especially if she is touching them. Artistic, brilliant and empathetic, October knows what lies deep in Joe’s heart and is immediately drawn to him. Her creative projects were so fascinating to read about. I loved the concepts she came up with and how she used the world around her to influence other people’s lives. October’s energy ignites Joe and forces him to finally take a stand for the things that matter most. Her patience and unwavering faith in those closest to her, made her a woman I truly admired.
Finally, the third strong character in Sorrow that gave it an easy 5 stars was childhood best friend Cal (Chris) Callahan. Confident, charismatic and full of life, Cal encourages Joe to pursue a career in music with him as teenagers only to be let down when Joe refuses to make the leap. When the pair are reunited under complicated circumstances, Joe is determined to right his wrongs and finally put Cal first. Cal is the kind of friend you want in your corner. He loves with a full heart and accepts Joe unconditionally. There were a few times that I honestly thought Cal and October were way too good for Joe!
THE WRITING STYLE
I had never heard of Tiffanie DeBartolo’s novels before being contacted by the publishing company. It felt serendipitous because after only a few pages in, I was rewarded with a familiar setting. In 2014, I travelled from Melbourne to San Francisco and hiked through the lush Muir Woods; marvelling at the majestic redwoods. In Sorrow, the protagonist Joe Harper, is enamoured by the forest surrounding his hometown Mill Valley and the memories spent ambling around Muir Woods. I understood his love for the redwoods and various flora he encounters during his life journey. The writing style was poetic, lyrical and filled with life lessons wrapped up in the sweetest metaphors. I wept at the end and gasped when Joe mentioned that the Portuguese word: ‘saudade’ was one of his favourites, as it is mine too. I was blown away by Tiffanie’s ability to create an entire world in a finite number of pages. She tied everything together so perfectly. I also appreciated the overlapping of different creative pursuits via art, music and nature. There is more than one way to touch a soul and express sorrow. I was so captivated by this story and its many layers.
OVERALL STAR RATING
I gave this 5/5 stars. It was honestly one of the best books I have read in 2020.
I hope you enjoyed this honest, spoiler-free review. Feel free to order a copy for yourself from the link above. Also stay tuned for my interview with Tiffanie DeBartolo!
Thank you for reading
Peace & Love xoxo
Disclaimer: This post contains links to my Book Depository Affiliate which helps fund my blog, I am not being paid or sponsored for this post/products – all my thoughts/opinions are my own