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And The Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass

What A Wonderful World 

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and for you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed the day, and the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people passing by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
But what they're really saying is I love you.

I hear baby's crying and I watched them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know 
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
Yes, I think to myself what a wonderful world.

Oh yeah!

 

The words to this song and voice of Louis Armstrong inspired the title to the most recent novel by Julia Glass. Think of them as you read And The Dark Sacred Night. A novel about birth and death and all that is life.

I have been reading novels by Julia Glass since her first, Three Junes, published in 2002, and several that followed since then. Her most recent novel, And The Dark Sacred Night, brings back some of the characters from her previous novels, filling in details of their earlier lives and bringing them all into the present time. She also introduces us to a whole new family connected to all of the others by a young father searching for his roots.

As always the days of the AIDS epidemic in New York City is part of the story, as it still haunts the men who survived, and their families, with the memories of those loved ones who died at that time.

The story begins with Christopher “Kit” Noonan, father of nine-year-old twins, happily married, but struggling with feeling of inadequacy. He is not where he expected to be professionally at this age – both he and his wife, Sandra, know he needs help. Sandra believes that part of Kit’s problem is not knowing the identity of his birth father. Nor does he know the reason his mother raised him alone for many years, before marrying –and then divorcing – Jasper, a man who was the only father Kit would ever know. Unemployed and confused Kit returns to his childhood home to ask Jasper if he knows any details about the past that might lead Kit to identifying his biological father. And so begins Kit’s journey, leading to the discovery of his father, his father’s family, and the story of his conception and birth.

Kit meets his father’s parents, a couple who missed so much of his life, and now this time with their grandson helps both of these older people find some peace with their own past and the grief it holds. Just as the “bright blessed day” is followed by the “dark sacred night” there is no present without the past. 

At one point there is a comment about the “family soap opera” that made me laugh – there are times when we look at the life of our own family and that of our friends and there is so much drama – marriages in crisis or demise, pregnant teenagers, young people and old struggling with substance abuse, the care of aging parents, the deaths, the births – all the things that make life, and families, so messy and absolutely wonderful.   Oh yeah!

 

 

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