Mt. Moriah’s Wake: A Novel
Melissa Norton Carro
She Writes Press (2021)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (2/2021)
“Mt. Moriah’s Wake: A Novel,” by Melisa Norton Carro, is an absorbing novel about one woman coming to terms with herself during a turning point in her life. JoAnna’s life had a bumpy start and was a mixed blessing. She became an orphan at the age of eight, but her colorful aunt Doro stepped in to raise her in the picturesque Mt. Moriah. As a young woman in her mid-twenties, she wants to be a writer, and is confronted by more than one challenge: Her relationship with her spouse, circumstances with her career, and issues around her faith. One of the worst events in her life was the murder of Grace, JoAnna’s best friend, which took her away from Mt. Moriah, but is now returning, this time for her aunt’s funeral. Consumed by grief and a sense of guilt, she realizes she has to give in to the sadness and allow herself to feel the depth of her mourning.
Carro has created a moving portrait of a woman that will resonate with most women in some way. Even if JoAnna’s life isn’t like yours, you probably know someone who’s gone through similar things. This is a deep, endearing novel that explores strong emotions and powerful life choices.
As you read, you’ll be transported between the main character’s childhood, her life in Chicago, and current events when she goes back to her hometown of Mt. Moriah. I love the questions that this author raises. Questions we can all ask ourselves as JoAnna struggles with them: Do we succumb to tragedy, or do we find a way to move on, and up? Can there ever be light again after it’s been extinguished? One of the strongest questions has to do with lost faith. If we find it slipping away, can we ever get it back?
Though you are fully invested in this drama, the conclusion is something you may not see coming, but is still fulfilling. Carro’s writing is poetic and descriptive, which sets you into the time and atmosphere of Mt. Moriah, and such a pleasure to read. I like the way she weaves Grace in and out of her thoughts and her life, and the pop culture references of her personal history.
Carro is talented with character development and story arcs. Writers and would-be writers will connect with JoAnna’s creative desires, and the story is underway on the first page. “Mt. Moriah’s Wake: A Novel,” by Melisa Norton Carro, is a deep journey into the life of a woman looking for courage to make the right decisions.