A Song for My Mother

Image of A Song for My Mother
Release Date: 
April 5, 2011
Vanguard Press
Reviewed by: 

Readers who enjoy excellent relationships with their mothers (and indeed, readers who have a challenging relationship with their mothers) would do well to take out stock in Kleenex™ before starting this heartfelt celebration of a novella from Kat Martin.

Although Ms. Martin touches on a number of different experiences within a mother’s life, the main story focuses on Marly Hanson, a teacher and single mother who is bringing her daughter, Katie, to Dreyerville to meet Winnie, Marly’s estranged mother and Katie’s grandmother. Katie has recently recovered from a bout of brain cancer, and her mother, desperate to see her little girl happy again, agrees to grant Katie’s dearest wish to meet her grandmother.

The circumstances of Marly’s escape from her childhood home are unpleasant and form the crux of her estrangement from her family. Her homecoming is painful, and Marly attempts to remain distant and detached, but a chance meeting with a new neighbor derails her plans for a short visit and a quick getaway. Reed is a widower, single father, and sheriff—and, if he has his way, Marly’s new love interest. Of course, Marly has no time for a new interest—and certainly not one so intricately tied to the community she’s so desperate to escape.

The book itself is over 200 pages, but the story is more novella length, only about 150. Included are chapters from some of Martin’s previous work, as well as a Q&A with the author, and some notes about Song.

Fans of Kat Martin will remember Dreyerville as the setting of The Christmas Clock, a fictional town set in the heartland of the United States based on Ionia, Michigan. The setting is an hommage to the best parts of small town living. Marly makes mention of the less desirable aspects: the gossip, nosiness, and long-term feuds that come with knowing everything about everyone else—but these are romanticized or glossed over in the face of the strong sense of community and togetherness that come into play especially during a crisis.

A Song for My Mother has a romantic subplot, but it is not strictly a romance story. The main relationships in this story are between mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, mothers and sons—and mothers and their relationships with the world, their community, and themselves. Not so much an apology as an explanation, Song’s bottom line is that mothers have hard decisions to make—ones that their children may not understand at the time, but they are doing the best they can.

Ms. Martin’s polished writing style takes what could have, in a less-accomplished author’s hands, been overdone and saccharine and creates a feel-good, honest, earnest story that is sure to tug at the heart strings and have readers reaching for their telephones. If you’re looking for a Mother’s Day gift, you’d be hard-pressed to find one better.