Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: Sing In The Morning, Cry At Night

Sing In The Morning, Cry At Night
by Barbara J. Taylor

Why did you choose this book? the glamour cover and the synopsis
When did you read this book? February 2015
Who should read this book? readers of historical fiction
Source: Library Thing Early Reviewers
Here is a synopsis of Sing In The Morning, Cry At Night from Goodreads

Almost everyone in town blames eight-year-old Violet Morgan for the death of her nine-year-old sister, Daisy. Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night opens on September 4, 1913, two months after the Fourth of July tragedy. Owen, the girls' father, "turns to drink" and abandons his family. Their mother Grace falls victim to the seductive powers of Grief, an imagined figure who has seduced her off-and-on since childhood. Violet forms an unlikely friendship with Stanley Adamski, a motherless outcast who works in the mines as a breaker boy.

During an unexpected blizzard, Grace goes into premature labor at home and is forced to rely on Violet, while Owen is "off being saved" at a Billy Sunday Revival.

Inspired by a haunting family story, Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night blends real life incidents with fiction to show how grace can be found in the midst of tragedy.

My Review

This one reminded me very much of Playing Saint Barbara by Marian Szczepanski. Both are stories a immigrant coal mining families set in Pennsylvania and the hard lives they leave, and I enjoyed both very much. One very big difference though is the fathers of the main characters. Fin, the father in Playing Saint Barbara, was a very unlikeable character who was abusive towards his family. Owen, the father in Sing In The Morning, Cry At Night, while flawed, is a very likeable character. While he is having personal issues coping with his grief, he never loses sight of his obligation to provide for his family.

Sing In The Morning, Cry At Night is a story of how this family copes with the aftermath of a tragic accident. The oldest child, Daisy, is killed on the day of her baptism and the entire town has an opinion on what happened and who is to blame. In addition to blame placed by the community, the family’s inability to communicate with one another about their grief makes coping even harder than it has to be.

Like all good historical fiction, I learned from this novel. It was interesting to see how hard life was for the common person back then and how dependent families were dependent on the coal mine owners for not only their livelihood, but also their housing. When a miner was killed or disabled, his family lost not only their loved one, but their home. For this reason, young boys were often sent to the mines at an early age as ‘replacement’ workers. I also got a glimpse into the evangelism of the early twentieth century. I had heard of Billy Sunday, but didn’t really know much about him, and I’m not even sure I realized he was a real person. Interestingly, the book I am reading now also talks of Billy Sunday.

This one will make a good book club selection with topics ranging from coal mining conditions past and present, as well as how people deal with grief. You can find a Reader’s guide on the author’s website here. There is a fascinating Pinterest board with photos and items related to the book here. You can also view a video of the author introducing her book below.

My Rating:  ★★★★    4 Stars

I received a review copy of this book through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program and have written an honest review which appears above
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