My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Miami Morning by Mary Clark is the story of an ordinary person, a teacher, Leila Payson, who finds a purpose that defines her life. The novel is exceptional in a number of areas, one of which is the beautiful way Clark describes Miami from the context of the issues on the narrator's mind. Here's an excerpt that is a good example of what I mean:
She trotted beside lacy borders of waves washing ashore, intoxicated by the sharp scent of iodine and mineral aroma of fresh-churned sand. The rolling waves made her think of the invisible waves that traveled between human beings and while the ocean waves were strong and substantial, and still carried an insistent power as they neared the shore, they were nothing compared to the magnificent intricacies and complexity of human interaction and communication. And we are only just beginning to learn how that works, Leila reminded herself.
When Leila started her career, she had her struggles. But she took advice that she needed and she grew from experience. By the time the story starts, she is considered one of the best teachers in her school by the critics who matter most, her students. One of those students, Raoul, begins to struggle in her class and Leila's life changes. Raoul is losing his hearing due to a genetic predisposition in his family. She supports him by trying to discover ways he can lead a normal life and by fighting the people who only want him to accept his limitations. Leila discovers through Raoul and through other friends that she can bring a sense of satisfaction to her life by helping the disabled find and maintain the value of their own lives.
As Leila discovers her calling, we get to meet her friends, to watch her weave her way through complicated romantic relationships, and to listen to her dealing with the frustrations in her career. But it is her discovery of purpose that brings magic to this novel. Leila is an ordinary person who learns to do extraordinary things and in the process our own understanding of issues concerning disabled people matures and grows.
Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions
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