Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night

Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night, by Barbara J. Taylor, © 2014, Akashic Books

This debut novel from Barbara J Taylor opens in grief. Young Daisy's life has been extinguished too soon in a freak sparkler accident in her backyard. Her sister Violet is witness to the accident and many whisper that perhaps the incident was in fact her fault. Their mother Grace is thrown into heavy mourning and their father Owen quickly finds solace at the bottom of a bottle. It looks to be a sad tale that just might not find its way back out.

The story may have a sad premise, but Taylor convinces the reader to join her in the tale, as we watch bewildered Violet try to find a space in her new world. Her mother is lost in grief and her father abandons the family to move into a gin mill in town, where the firewater that numbs his reality is readily available. It seems no one cares about poor Violet, until "stinky" Stanley befriends her. The two form a quick friendship fuelled by both of their outcast statuses; Stanley's mother is dead and his father another disgruntled miner working long hours. Where no one else seems to care about them, the children find hope and life in each other.

The world of the anthracite coal mines is harsh and filled with constant threat of tragedy in this turn-of-the century novel. As each bell rings out an accident, both fear and hope are flamed. Will a new tragedy bring Violet's torn family back together once more? The mine that employs the bulk of the men in town, also takes as many away. It is a reality that touches everyone in town, where Violet's father Owen works, and eventually Stanley finds himself as well. The only thing that brings comfort is the heavy presence of the church, even with its share of meddling church ladies and their caustic tongues. In Grace's case though, it would seem that grief is even more powerful than God's good graces. Owen prayers died on his tongue with his daughter too.

So what will it take to reunite a family torn apart by grief? You will soon find out in this quick read.

Thanks to Akashic Books for sending me an Advance Reading Copy to review!


  1. Taylor has a way with storytelling and a lot of great history to draw from. Well done and a good read. Much in the same tradition as "Mine Seed" also set in Scranton and another fascinating look into the lives and times of coal miners by Lucia Dailey. Leaves the reader wanting more.

    1. She does indeed. I found the history as interesting as Taylor's storytelling.
      Thanks for leaving a comment!


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