We all have them - circumstances that alter our lives. Sometimes these events travel through generations and leave a wake of remorse awaiting redemption, but just as often, they interrupt our routine and open our hearts to love. John W. Howell's most recent book, Circumstances of Childhood, takes us through some of those life-changing trials and reveals their impact and possible resolution. I just finished reading his book and offer my review:
Circumstances of Childhood is a fictionalized memoir that draws the reader through the loss of loved ones, the sorrow of a broken marriage, and the devastation of financial ruin. It is a coming of age drama that is like none other I’ve read. It straddles heaven and earth as the mystical realm reaches across the divide to provide comfort and wisdom during times of great distress.
This book tugs at your heartstrings and gives you pause about life’s purpose; it also keeps you on the edge of your seat. It has traces of a thriller wrapped in a mystery, but it also reads as a different kind of love story, one that is ultimately an embrace of life.
There are messages interwoven throughout the book – of determination and strength, of fair-mindedness and kindness, of hope triumphant over despair. These themes linger even after the turn of the last page, which is a testimony to author John Howell’s writing expertise. I strongly recommend this book as it was a definite 5-star read for me.
An excerpt from Chapter 1:
I look down at my drink and wonder what will happen tomorrow. My daughter Constance wants to come and visit. She lives in New York, and before all hell broke loose, we didn’t see each other often. I missed her so much, and it seemed as if I had to beg her even to talk on the phone. Now, it’s like she wants to be here every weekend. It’s only an hour’s flight by the shuttle or three by train, so she can come when she wants. I just can’t figure out why she got so clingy. I have my troubles, but it doesn’t have anything to do with her. No use in asking her husband either. Though a nice enough guy, I always wonder if he has someplace important to go when I visit. He never sits still and stays busy on the phone or at the computer. He makes a good living, but it seems a person could take an hour to sit and talk. I’d looked forward to some kind of relationship when he and Constance got married. It’ll never happen with him.
When I take another pull at my drink, I notice the burn feels less. It happens every time. First sip initiation, I call it. It’s like the first puff of a cigarette, hits hard then, after, nothing. I decide to let Constance pretty much have the agenda tomorrow. She and I have not had a chance to talk about anything deep for a while. It could just be that she blames me for her mother running off with that guy with the house on the Hudson. He has a title, and the old gal couldn’t resist, but I think the daughter always felt I should have done something. Her mother’s sleeping with another guy and what the hell can I do about that?
I’ll just go with the flow. If she wants to go out, we will. If she wants to stay in, we can do that too. I better think about getting some food in the house. Of course, we can always order take out. I need to move on to my drink and let this go. Tomorrow will be what it is. I remember the day she was born. I looked down at her in my arms and promised I would do anything for her. I love her more than life itself, and I hope we can somehow get to the root of whatever’s wrong. She sounded strange on the phone this morning, and I feel helpless to do anything about it. I hope she opens up when she gets here.
For some reason, I feel tired. Perhaps I’ll go ahead and finish my drink. Maybe I’ll just go home and forget the burger. First, though, I’ll just shut my eyes for a minute. My hands feel good when I put my head down.
“Hey, Greg,” Jerry says. I barely hear him. “What’s the matter? You taking a nap? Greg?” I can feel him shake me, but I have no interest in waking up. His voice gets further away, and I think he says, “Oh, my God, Sophie, call 911, quick.” Now the room goes silent.
A bit about author John W. Howell:
John began writing full-time after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but he also writes poetry and short stories. Circumstances of Childhood is his first venture into the Family Life genre.
John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their rescue pets. Their paradise was one of the many areas hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. He and his family were evacuated and only recently returned to their home. Without internet, he writes via his cell phone.