The Laws of Harmony is the story of Sunny Cooper, a voice-over artist living in Albequerque with her boyfriend, Michael. Her life seems to be all in order: boyfriend she loves, amazing best friend, work she enjoys. Then a tragic accident occurs, one that takes someone precious and also reveals the secrets and lies that were under the surface of her world.
Sunny runs from her past – the distant past of her childhood in a commune on the mesa in New Mexico, and the recent past of her broken relationships – as far as she can go without boarding a plane. She ends up in the little town of Harmony, on fictional San Miguel Island in the Pacific Northwest. Sunny begins to make a life for herself in Harmony, but fate has a few more startling revelations to throw her way.
The Laws of Harmony was a wonderful way to spend the last week’s worth of reading time. Ms. Hendricks is a talented wordsmith, and her descriptions of the New Mexican desert and the San Juan islands were beautifully written. I also enjoyed the way she wove scenes of Sunny’s history into the present action – it was seamlessly done, and a good way to give the character’s back story without dumping it all at the beginning of the book, as less talented authors are wont to do.
I read one review of this book that described Sunny’s character as “prickly,” and that’s an apt description. Her history and relationship with her mother have made her fiercely independent and wary of people. Her relationship with Michael only served to reinforce her distrust of others. The townspeople of Harmony, however, are determined to break through her defenses and welcome her into their community – whether she likes it or not.
In The Laws of Harmony, Judith Hendricks writes deftly about dealing with the past. What should we hold on to? What should we let go? What happens if we don’t let go of past pain? I especially liked the realistic way in which the relationship between Sunny and her mother, Gwen, was handled. A relationship that has endured pain and betrayal does not heal quickly. It takes work and each person moving closer, one step at a time. Hendricks writes realistically of betrayal, disappointment, and pain, but also of healing, hope, and community. Highly recommended.