The Shadow of Your Smile was sent to me by Tyndale House Publishers as an advanced review copy. It is one of the Deep Haven novels by Susan May Warren. You can read my review of another Deep Haven novel, My Foolish Heart, here.
After twenty-five years, Noelle and Eli Hueston’s marriage is falling apart. They are sticking it out just long enough to see their youngest graduate from high school. When Noelle gets caught in a robbery at a coffee shop, the injuries she suffers cause her to lose part of her memory. She wakes up not knowing her children or her husband, and she definitely doesn’t remember another tragedy that occurred that led to the disintegration of her marriage in the first place.
As Noelle adjusts to this strange world that she has been forced to live in, she must come to terms with what her life has been all about. Will the secrets of the past few years of Noelle and Eli’s marriage lead them to give up, or have they been given a second chance at a future filled with hope?
Stories about characters with amnesia have been drastically over-done in the course of fiction and TV (mostly soap opera) history. So I am always a little leery about any novels involving this storyline. But something about the synopsis for this book hooked me, and I wanted to know where the story would go. I think what made me want to know more was that the husband would have to decide whether or not he was going to tell his wife that they were about to get divorced before she lost her memory.
I thought the part of the story in The Shadow of Your Smile that revolved around the amnesia was very interesting. Eli was forced to confront the fact that maybe he didn’t know his wife as well as he should have. And the realization for Noelle that she was actually a 46-year-old mom when her brain was telling her she was still in college was hilarious! (I’m pretty sure the “college me” would not recognize my current body, either!)
However, I realized about halfway through the book that the amnesia plot was not necessarily going to be the main story. The synopsis alludes to a tragedy that had taken place in this family, and that story ends up being the focal point rather than the story of the amnesia and Noelle and Eli’s marriage. I guess that is why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. I kind of felt cheated out of what I thought the story was going to be about. If I had known that the novel would mostly be about dealing with the death of a child, I’m not sure I would have chosen to read it in the first place.
I also thought that some of the events that occurred in this small town seemed a bit over-the-top. How many more horrible things can happen to this one family and in this one town? (I mean, where are they, Cabot Cove? (That was for my hubby…!) Bonus points to anyone who can tell me what that is referencing!)
There is also a subplot in this novel that follows a romance between one of Eli and Noelle’s sons and another girl from Deep Haven. It was nice but not extremely memorable.
The emotions portrayed in this book are very real and are graver than in other novels I have read by Susan May Warren. The characters are far from perfect, though, which does make them relatable, and they are also able to take some real steps of growth. This is a deep story filled with raw emotion that ultimately focuses on the hope that God is in control.
I have really enjoyed the other books by Susan May Warren, which is why I think I was a bit unsatisfied with this one. I built it up too much. Add to that the fact that I felt as if the back cover tricked me into thinking the story was about the amnesia rather than the grief over a lost child, and it just made this book somewhat disappointing to me.
If you are interested in reading the background behind why the author wrote this book, visit her website here: http://www.susanmaywarren.com/books/the-shadow-of-your-smile
I will give The Shadow of Your Smile ... 3 BookWorms.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."