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Songs Without Words    by Ann Packer order for
Songs Without Words
by Ann Packer
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2008 (2007)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Joan Burton

Liz and Sarabeth were childhood friends growing up in Northern California in the late seventies. When Sarabeth was sixteen years old, her mother took her own life. Sarabeth lived with Liz and her parents, the Castleberrys, when her father decided to move from the area. The two girls grew up as close as sisters.

Now, decades later, Liz is married with two children of her own. She is a stay-at-home Mom devoting herself to her family. Sarabeth however stayed single and works as a home stager for a real estate agent. She also enjoys creating lamps and selling them. Sarabeth had become involved with a married man and a year later is still mourning the breakup. Over the years their friendship has remained close, even though they have different lifestyles.

Liz's daughter Lauren has attempted suicide and it has changed the family. Liz and her husband Cody are reeling from the pain and guilt. How could they not have heard her cries for help. Not only has it changed Liz's family life but it has changed her relationship with Sarabeth. Sarabeth is upset to hear the news about Lauren but it brings back painful memories of her own mother who spent months in bed disconnected from her family. The two friends cannot come together during this crisis.

The main plot of this book is not about the friendship between Liz and Sarabeth, but the similarities between Sarabeth and Lauren. They each struggle for happiness and to find meaning in their lives, always fighting an undertow that weighs them down. Sarabeth never attempts suicide but she withdraws from reality and from living her own life to its full potential. We are shown how depression and suicide have a ripple like effect on everyone close to the victim.

Songs Without Words portrays how lifetime friendships can survive a crisis if they are nurtured with love like any other relationship. It is an informative story of life simply being difficult for some to navigate.

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