Monday, October 19, 2020

Review: SORROW by Tiffanie DeBartolo

by Tiffanie DeBartolo
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Pages: 270
Published by Woodhall Press Llp
Source: Author | Publisher


From Tiffanie DeBartolo, author of God Shaped Hole, How to Kill a Rock Star, and Grace: The Jeff Buckley Story, comes Sorrow, a poignant story about friendship and love, art and music, and how these pursuits can save us from ourselves.

Joe Harper has backpedaled throughout his life. A once-promising guitar prodigy, he’s been living without direction since abandoning his musical dreams. Now into his thirties, having retreated from every opportunity he’s had to level up, he has lost his family, his best friend, and his self-respect.

But Joe finds an unlikely path to redemption when he starts working as a carpenter for the bohemian conceptual artist October Danko. The job returns him to his hometown, loaded with bittersweet reminders of his former life, in the shadows of his beloved redwood trees. As Joe’s relationship with October develops, he yearns to take a daring step toward a bold future but struggles to escape the craven decisions of his past.

Sorrow is a stunning, moving novel that explores masculinity and suspended adolescence, all the while begging the questions: Can courage be learned? And is it ever too late to follow your heart?

My Thoughts

I'M READY TO FEEL IT ALL. That was my immediate reaction after hearing that Tiffanie Debartolo was writing a new book. I'd just finished reading GOD SHAPED HOLE (a book that I hadn't read until just last year - I don't know what was wrong with me) and I was in a state of awe. I'm very lucky to have won an ARC and had the opportunity to read it early. No waiting around this time. I've marked up my copy noting some of my favorite quotes and moments that I know I'll want to revisit. And I've already ordered a finished copy for my personal home library. 

SORROW is moving and thoughtful and inspiring. Each word written and each scene shared is with notable intention. And the descriptions of art, the descriptions of creating art, creating music, and the love between the characters - it's all so mesmerizing. I could see October in the studio and could see her during her exhibits of living art. I could hear and feel the music Joe played in his bare feet. You can't help but immerse yourself in it. To fold within the pages and become a part of it.


One of my favorite moments is when Joe talks about playing his friend's guitars:

" . . I can't say that playing Cal's guitars made my loneliness go away. But I could make those guitars feel what I was feeling, and that made me less lonely. I could transfer my longing to whatever instrument was in my hands, and I could turn it into beautiful sounds. It didn't heal me, but it comforted me, and I needed comfort more than anything." (page 128)

I really felt this.

After reading just a few chapters, I texted my sister and told her that I was reading a book that SHE needed to read. I knew that she would connect with both Joe and October, and then when I finished it and shared my thoughts about it with my sister, it was a moment of connection. We both had chills. I love when you know just the right person to recommend a book to, because they will find it just as special as you do.

SORROW is uniquely profound. It is completely different from anything I've read in a really long time. The moment I turned to the first page, I knew I was going to read magic - something that was going to open my mind and even my heart. And it wasn't even an expectation, I just knew it. And I loved it.

Disclaimer:  I won a physical ARC from the author through an Instagram giveaway. Previously, I'd requested a copy of this title for review consideration and received an e-ARC from the publisher but found that format difficult to read. This review is of the physical copy I received. I was not compensated in any way other than the ARCs provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

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