A few years ago, I had the pleasure to take a literature class with Ladette Randolph, author and publisher-in-residence at Emerson College. I admired her work then, and was excited to learn she had a new book out, Haven’s Wake.
Haven’s Wake is a unique novel that takes place over the course of two days and a handful of viewpoints, all surrounding the death of a Nebraskan Mennonite family patriarch. We get views of the preparation for the funeral from such varied people as his elderly wife with a martyr complex, his shunned son who now runs a lighting design company in Boston, and his granddaughter through his other son who collects the towns dirty little secrets. To tell you much more than this would spoil the story.
What that story does, however, is to construct an incredible portrait of a splintered family, with all the sibling rivalries, trauma from days gone bye, and religious fervor you could wish for. Your heart breaks for this family while at the same time you find yourself rooting for one family member to stick it to another, then in the next chapter find yourself sympathizing with the one you just wanted to get their comeuppance. It is masterfully wrought, and I am not ashamed to say that I cried at the end.
I highly suggest this novel for anyone who appreciates a good solid family drama, and isn’t afraid to feel some emotion, because there is no way to avoid it. Go out and find yourself a copy of this one today.