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A Sundog Moment    by Sharon Baldacci order for
Sundog Moment
by Sharon Baldacci
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Elizabeth and Michael Whittaker have been deeply in love for so many years that their relationship is viewed with envy by those who know them. When Elizabeth starts experiencing dizziness, numbness, and other strange symptoms, they don't know what to think. Is it a brain tumor? The news they receive shakes their world to the very foundation. Elizabeth has multiple sclerosis.

Suddenly, everything that seemed safe and secure about their lives is turned upside down. The fatigue and other physical problems that affect Elizabeth become almost too much for Michael, and their once rock-solid relationship hits shaky ground. Trying to make sense of what is happening, Elizabeth starts to attend church again. She hears a sermon about sun dogs - the cirrus clouds that form around the sun and reflect rainbows when the weather is about to change. Elizabeth makes it her mission to see a sun dog, which she perceives as a promise from God that He is there for her. Will Michael and Elizabeth weather this tumultuous storm? Is it possible for Elizabeth to accept what this terrible disease means for her life? Sharon Baldacci writes A Sundog Moment from personal experience. Since the author has lived with MS for twenty-one years, Elizabeth's emotions are portrayed by someone who knows.

I was given a glimpse by this novel into the life of someone who lives with chronic illness. It helped me to understand the trials and joys of living day-to-day with such a debilitating disease. Even though the initial diagnosis is long past for the author, she vividly portrays Elizabeth's grief and roller coaster emotions in learning to cope with a disease that is affecting her entire life. The plot is uplifting and interesting. However, the writing tells us what is happening, rather than unfolding events and allowing us to imagine peoples' reactions. It's such an emotionally loaded subject that I felt cheated by being unable to empathize with characters, since I was on the outside of the story most of the time. There is also quite a bit of head hopping - we see things from many different points of view, which doesn't allow us to get to know anyone in depth.

The novel presents a great deal of information and experiences relating to MS. It does get overwhelming at times, trying to take in and understand everything. However, the main theme of developing faith and relying on God for hope comes through beautifully, and is heartwarming. If you are living with a chronic illness, or are close to someone who is, A Sundog Moment will speak directly to you.

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