A Piece of Heaven
Barbara Samuel is a great favorite of many AAR reviewers, and here she again shows why. Her lyrical writing and her real characters create a comforting place for readers to stay a while.
Luna McGraw is a recovering alcoholic struggling to fix her life. Her alcoholism allowed her ex-husband to gain custody of her daughter years before. Now she has a chance for another start with her daughter, Joy, who has decided to come live with her mother. The day that Joy is due to arrive, Luna saves an elderly neighbor woman from a fire, bringing her into contact with the woman’s grandson, Tomas Coyote. Luna’s attraction to Tomas from afar spans two years, and it now appears that the feelings are mutual.
Luna is on her way back to gaining control of her life, but she’s not taking any chances. A former therapist, she now has a enjoyable and emotionally safe job supervising the floral department at the grocery store. Hitting bottom as a drunk is an experience that she never wants to risk repeating and she still fears taking too many chances at once, but is hopeful about this fresh start with her daughter. Luna is interested in Tomas but afraid to trust, particularly since she also has issues in the form of a father who left her family with no explanation.
Tomas is wounded. He lost his wife when she left him for his brother. He wanted a family with her, and now she’s pregnant by another man. Tomas has a habit of taking in strays. Tiny, one of his workers, lives with him while he serves out a kind of house arrest for domestic violence. Tomas is an open person – he’s open to love with Luna, open to all the possibilities. While he’s definitely a man who’s been hurt, he’s hopeful and kind.
Tomas knows that he is attracted to Luna and he wants a relationship with her, and he’s willing to take the risk. While she is more hesitant, she eventually lets go. Their relationship is gentle but passionate, a test of trust.
Samuel’s writing truly is lyrical. It flows; it’s evocative with a minimum of words. It’s the kind of writing you take your time reading because there’s no rush to finish. Samuel’s ability to infuse her characters with a sense of hopelessness and hopefulness at the same time makes it seem real.
Luna’s mother and daughter, her friend Maggie, Timy, and Tomas’ grandmother are all essential supporting characters. The book is richer for having them in it, and their stories weave nicely with Luna’s. The book is overall about healing – families, hearts, and lives. While it’s missing that little extra indefinable something that makes a DIK for me, it’s still an excellent story. Samuel’s fans will not be disappointed.