Monday, January 18, 2021

REVIEW: Sorrow by Tiffanie DeBartolo


To be honest, trying to write a review for Sorrow seems like such an injustice to the experience of reading it. But it would be an even bigger injustice if I didn't let the world know that I read it and loved it. The people who happen across this blog or review have to know that this is a MUST READ. 

Ever since Tiffanie DeBartolo posted the first hint, the first suggestion, that she was writing this novel, I knew I'd have to have it. Everything she's written I've felt a connection to. Her characters and their journeys just burrow under my skin, race through my bloodstream, and find a home in my heart. 

Sorrow is...
a love story
a grief story
a story of hope cloaked in melancholy

Sorrow may...
make you frustrated or annoyed with Joe
even when you understand why he's so quick to run away 
and so slow to embrace who he is, or could be

Sorrow will
remind you of what you may forget
about time
and action
and inaction
and loss

Sorrow should
nudge you
prod you
inspire you
invigorate you

And Sorrow will most definitely make you hope and wish that Tiffanie DeBartolo is finding her next inspiration because we all need more of her words in our heads, on our shelves, and in our hearts. I know that this novel will be absolutely perfect for so many of my former students and even some of my current ones. 

The story of October and Joe and Cal is one that I won't forget. Between October and her quirky art installations (which WOW, the time and imagination to come up with those!) and her sage wisdom on relationships and humanity, and Joe and his stubborn resistance to truly live for himself, and Cal's heart and inability to let Joe sink into nothingness, I didn't stand a chance--I was destined to love them all, and love them I did. 

Thank you, Tiffanie DeBartolo, for giving me new words, new characters to love, and a reminder to not give up before I've even started.


From Tiffanie DeBartolo, author of God Shaped HoleHow 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 own 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?

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