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The Laws of Harmony: A Novel by Judith R.…

The Laws of Harmony: A Novel

by Judith R. Hendricks

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13526137,000 (3.94)4
Sunny Cooper has been running since she was eighteen, both from the New Mexican commune where she grew up and from the haunting memory of her younger sister's death. When a second tragic accident turns her world upside down, Sunny runs again, to the town of Harmony on San Miguel Island where she takes a new job, learns to ride a motorcycle, and makes some surprising new friends. But the past is never far behind.… (more)



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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
I liked the writing style but not the characters. The main character left me disappointed. I can't tell why or I'd give away part of the story, but I would be hard pressed to recommend this book. ( )
  VhartPowers | Dec 27, 2018 |
I have thoroughly enjoyed the other books I have read by Hendricks and once again she writes what I like to read. My sort of disappointment with the ending is simply because we have sort of left Laura there, with things about to happen. I want to find out what happens next but i need the author to fill in the blanks with at least another book. ( )
  nyiper | Oct 4, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Sunny Cooper is a pessimist. It could be the results of an unhappy childhood spent growing up in a commune in New Mexico. Or maybe the memories of a tragic accident that took the life of her younger sister whatever the cause, her fiance describes her as having a melancholy streak a mile wide. She struggles with her life and her relationship, having no preparation for either in the commune. When a second tragic accident—and the devastating truths that come to light in its aftermath—turns her world upside down, Sunny runs.

With just the clothes on her back, and her ever present pessimism, she ends up in the town of Harmony on San Miguel Island, where she learns it is possible to trust people and let them help her. With a new job, new skills and new friends, she starts to build a new life, but her past life intrudes. There is soon a constant reminder and she reaches out to her estranged mother as she embraces an uncertain future.

The book is written in the first person, in the present, with 'flashbacks', a format that is not my favorite, in the skilled hands of Judith Hendricks it works. The past is brought forth in a series of memories, tied to present events, and as these memories are told, they explain Sunny's present day actions. The vivid descriptions of the heat and the dust and later the fog and rain and black dirt give a sense of realism and richness to the account. This was a pleasant and enjoyable read. A believable story that was east to follow.

I only had one problem, when I first read the description, I thought San Miguel Island was in the Caribbean, when I realized that the location was off the coast of Washington State I got totally confused since I lived there for 4 years and don't remember a San Miguel Island, so I Googled it. Yes there is no San Miguel Island in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and there is a Harmony, WA but its about 225 miles from the San Juan Islands. There is however, a Lopez Island and Orcas Island. Just a little bit of trivia for any other OCD readers.

That being said, I enjoyed reading this book, and recommend it. ( )
  BellaFoxx | Apr 5, 2012 |
Judith Ryan Hendricks gives us the tribulations and crankiness of Soleil (who goes by ‘Sunny’) in “The Laws of Harmony.” Even given the struggle of her childhood in a New Mexico commune, and all the resulting issues she has with her mother, we still find it hard to engage our emotions or hopes for her.

Sunny Cooper pushes people away from herself. Her large unresolved resentment of her mother Gwen precludes closeness with others, even the handsome, compelling Michael, who proposes to her. She balks and makes him wait for her to come around to the idea. But Michael’s duplicity, legal trouble, and disappearance generate not only the tension that pushes the narrative forward, but it pushes Sunny to move from Albuquerque to a remote island off the coast of Washington state
Here she meets the permanent (non-tourist) population, a mixed lot who try to offer help and support, which Sunny feels ambivalent toward, and doesn’t want to accept. Ms. Hendricks makes an attempt to wrap up the story’s threads and does so at some basic level, but again, I found my emotions only half-engaged.

“The Laws of Harmony” spends a fair amount of its capital in expansive descriptions of mundane tasks: food prep and cooking, showering, tidying up, or simply walking through a ferry terminal. Events and thought process quite central to the novel, however, have a glossed-over feeling at times. Chief among these: Sunny’s near-constant anger and anti-social behavior. This does soften near the end, but I don’t think it’s adequately founded in the story. I don’t see her motivation. Sunny’s evolution from being someone with a hard, isolated outlook into a person capable of accepting and giving human kindness, starts by novel’s end, but the ending has an abrupt, rather arbitrary feel. There are sections that amuse, and I did find myself laughing at some of the dialog, but overall, I felt I could spend my time on projects with a greater reward.

http://bassoprofundo1.blogspot.com/2011/06/laws-of-harmony-by-judith-ryan.html ( )
  LukeS | Jun 12, 2011 |
I want to move to Harmony. Running away is something Sunny Cooper does well, and what an ideal place to stop her running. The author makes this small island not just a refuge but a place where friendships can grow, and lives analyzed at a slow pace. Growing up in a commune prepared Sunny for a low-income life style, but she makes it to be fun, not catastrophic, and the readers will go from page to page, cheering on our new lady friend. I felt as if I knew each character as the author developed them, and found myself rooting for some and hating others. Each reader can relate to one of the characters, and when the last page is read, feel as if they will come to the door at any minute for a cup of coffee. Not to tell the story line, because the plot is not so much the story as how mother-daughter relationships can be resolved, if enough patience and desire is there. Throwing in a scoundrel lover adds to the plot, if a reader wants someone to dislike. But overall, Ms. Hendricks takes all of the bad, all of the good, and makes a wonderful novel for us to know there can be resolution to a lot more problems if we just sit back and let go of some control we feel we all need. Graceful, funny and poignant, and yes, Judith Ryan Hendricks truly is a master at writing women's stories. ( )
  bakersfieldbarbara | Apr 4, 2011 |
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