REVIEW: AND THE DARK SACRED NIGHT, BY JULIA GLASS

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Our story opens in a summer camp for talented young musicians; slowly we learn of the unexpected outcome; and years later, we learn more about what happened and what the consequences would be.

Kit Noonan, a husband and father, struggles with his unemployment, his troubled marriage, and unanswered questions from the past. Will he find the answers when he visits his stepfather, Jasper Noonan? And what doors will open?

And the Dark Sacred Night: A Novel can best be described as a family saga, as we see events unfold gradually, through the perspectives of various characters. In the beginning, we see Kit’s life, followed by some meaningful time he spends in Vermont with Jasper.

Lucinda Burns, an octogenarian whose husband has just suffered a stroke, has secrets she has been holding onto for decades. And her husband Zeke has a few of his own.

How will the snippets they are all withholding come together to complete the puzzle? Will a few phone calls, a weekend jaunt to the tip of Cape Cod, and an unconventional new family bring a feeling of completion for them all?

Because this story also weaves in characters from Three Junes, a previous novel by this author, I had the sense of rejoining a party already underway. But the author did a great job of revealing what is needed, so this could be a stand-alone tale. I loved how fleshed out the characters were and how much history came along with them. We learn more about Fenno, a dear friend of Malachy Burns, and his current partner Walter. The two of them are constantly bombarded with reminders of the past.

The past is a recurrent theme, and I liked this excerpt in which a therapist explains how the past is never really past:

“…Which is why psychotherapy exists in the first place. Do you know that song, `What a Wonderful World’? You do, I’m sure,” he said when Fenno looked willfully blank. “Louis Armstrong? We hear it so often that it’s become about as moving as a beer jingle. But it’s beautiful. Have you ever listened to the lyrics, closely? The list of things that prove how wonderful the world really is? I’m taken every time by this: `the bright blessed day and the dark sacred night’…But what I mean is that the past is like the night: dark yet sacred….”

There is something so lyrical, emotionally compelling about a story like this. I will think about the characters, the gorgeous settings, and the situations long after I close this book. 5 stars.

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