Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Book Review: 'AnnaPolis Summers' by Linda Heavner Gerald

Florida author Linda Heavner Gerald has retired from her medical background and is living and writing along the Gulf of Mexico. She has already established a solid reputation as a writer of eight mystery thrillers, winning awards both in this country and abroad. Linda’s keen eye for evil in her books is matched by her conviction that ‘regardless of our actions, God is always ready to welcome us back with forgiveness.’ Rather than simply titillate her readers with superbly terrifying stories and psychological drama she offers a bit of a rainbow at the end – a sense of hope or encouragement for the characters of her books. Yet in ANNAPOLIS SUMMERS Linda turns her penetrating eye to the act of bullying as the theme – sustaining and surviving bullies in a story that is rich in color and the fine settings for which she is becoming highly respected.

Linda’s ability to paint a setting for a novel grows with each of her books. In this strange story she manages to capture the mindset of a person who has known bullying and allows us entry into the formative aspects of that crime. ‘The summer of my thirteenth year, while I was in middle school, started my first battle with angry, hateful people. Does anyone ever forget the pain of bullying? I haven’t. It seems like only yesterday that I, Anna Polis, learned the severity of hateful words and hurtful labels. I tried to ignore what they said, but couldn’t. I only pretended not to care. One time should have been enough but not for me. There were two other episodes of meanness lurking, as I matured into the woman of today. My childhood was idyllic at least in the beginning. Dad surrounded us with every luxury. Ellie, our maid, was like another mother to me. She is still. Due to three loving people to guide me, I can laugh now about what I endured. My sense of humor and wit spurs me on each day. You must find happiness to survive the days of darkness. It became easy for me to compartmentalize my mind. It is called survival! Savannah, my hometown, remains tucked into a recess of my heart which makes me smile. My heart and mind contain many compartments. I refer to these as “happy places.” Savannah, this home, even Annapolis, all of these sites now bring me joy. This coastal town continues to hold a piece of my heart even though I have moved away to another love by the coast. When I am away from my hometown, I miss the noble woman of a city. I know that Savannah is a woman because she has the name of a southern belle. She bursts with the fragrance of the sea, flowers, and freshness. As a young girl, I once stood on my balcony and breathed so deeply that my lungs hurt from over-expansion, but I didn’t mind. The delicious fragrances, which overtook my senses, caused dizziness. I clutched the wrought iron rail to my balcony and thanked God that I was born in the South.’

The synopsis of this meaningful exploration as offered by the author follows – ‘No one has the right to make another person's life unhappy. Many victims of bullying never recover from the darkness and pain. This tale is of Anna Polis, a wealthy girl who enjoys sailing on the family's yacht, Honey, each summer to Annapolis. The message is that all types are abused and must face the meanness of others. Anna is able, with the help of classmates, to weather the attacks. She even fulfills earlier dreams of greatness in her school. It is the next bully who almost destroys the young woman as she studies at Duke University. This foe is determined to end her life and all that she loves. Anna has a force on her side that even the vilest opponent can't conquer. Again, the young woman gains the love she almost lost.’

This is a novel with a strong message for all ages so eloquently written that it becomes obvious that we are in the presence of a very fine author indeed. Grady Harp, September 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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