A short, intriguing novel of reincarnation.

Love Reincarnated

Sreedharan’s unconventional debut love story is food for the inquisitive soul.

Sri Hari lives in his family home in the small town of Chennai, India. At the urging of a neighbor and friend, Sri Hari acquires a large house, called Krishna Vihar, just across the road. Though Sri Hari has no real desire to own this home, his loyalty to his friend compels him to purchase the property in the hope that he can rent it out to reliable tenants. The arrival of Ravi, Shanti and their teenage daughter, Devi, answers this wish. The family seeks spiritual assistance and divine intervention for Devi at the nearby Krishna Temple, as she’s become afflicted with an unknown condition that has caused her to become disinterested in life. As the family settles in across the street, Devi soon shows signs of getting better. Shanti praises Lord Krishna, believing the prayers and devotions must be working, as “there is an enormous improvement in [Devi’s] attitude and she is no more that introvert girl.” Devi becomes particularly attached to Sri Hari and seeks his company continuously. Sri Hari views her as he would a beloved granddaughter, but Devi has fallen deeply in love with him, even though he’s several decades her senior. Sri Hari and Shanti seek professional help for the girl as they try to understand her infatuation. It soon seems likely that Sri Hari’s past life may be part of Devi’s present troubles; at the center of the story is the idea of reincarnation, the Hindu belief that “our souls discard our bodies when we die like we change our old dresses for the new ones.” Sreedharan presents an intriguing mystery and an unexpected love story as he explores concepts of passion, spirituality and astrology. Although the prose is occasionally stilted, with some grammatical slip-ups, Sri Hari’s voice comes through clearly, particularly when he opens up about his past and reflects on his emotions. In one particularly poignant section, Sri Hari mourns a lost love, finding that “time may heal the wound, but the loss cannot be compensated.” Although the author presents a story of atypical, largely unrequited love, romance devotees may still appreciate its concept of unending, spiritual adoration. Overall, this thought-provoking journey may lead readers to explore not only their religious beliefs, but also their thoughts on the lasting power of love.

A short, intriguing novel of reincarnation. 

Pub Date: March 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482719369

Page Count: 120

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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