Monday, June 8, 2015

Book Review: "Shelter Us" by Laura Nicole Diamond

Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

The grief of losing a child is said to be one of the most painful and devastating, particularly when the child is an infant. My brother died of SIDS when he was six weeks old about 31 years ago, and I remember how debilitating that loss was for our entire family, particularly my parents, and that grief still resonates for my mother all these years later.

Sarah Shaw isn't sure she wants to recover after the accidental death of her infant daughter. But everyone tells her she needs to pull herself together and start living life again, especially to bring some normalcy back into the lives of her two young sons. Everyone, including her husband, watches her cautiously, expecting her to fall apart again. But it isn't too long before her husband gets caught up in the demands of work, leaving her to take care of their sons, despite that she is afraid something might go unexpectedly wrong at every turn.

One day she sees a young homeless woman pushing her baby in a stroller, and it taps into emotions Sarah thought she had dammed up. She pursues the woman, Josie, trying to help her, but Josie is wary of this woman suddenly wanting to help. Eventually, the two form an unlikely relationship of sorts, with Sarah determined to save Josie and her daughter. But Sarah doesn't understand the extent to which her help is needed, and she doesn't anticipate the toll this relationship will take on her own life, her marriage, and her psyche. All she knows is that saving Josie is key to saving herself.

How far would you go to help a stranger in need? What would you sacrifice for this help? Shelter Us attempts to answer those questions, filtered through a woman at the end of her emotional rope. But this type of behavior, obsessing over one problem because you can't control another, is far too common, and this book does an excellent job at exploring how a person can lose sight of what they're doing when lost in their own emotional issues.

This book is sad and hopeful, and Laura Nicole Diamond does a terrific job creating a situation that seems all too real and all too believable. The reader knows what Sarah is doing is out of control, but you understand why she is doing it. This is Diamond's debut novel, and she definitely proves that she is a writer worth watching in the future.

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