Grief is such a potent force; it can forge powerful writing from those wishing to remember a loved one in print. From a Note to a Novel seems to be intended as such a tribute, but it suffers from a lack of structure among other flaws.
The author, identified as “Sinnaj” on the title page but “Juanita” within the text, writes about her family and the devastating loss of Nicholas, her husband and father to two of her three children. She includes short chapters about faith in God, dreams of her departed husband that brought her some comfort, and stories of their meeting and marriage.
Sinnaj also has a few bones to pick with her extended family and others. A man who she claims stole her husband’s lawnmower after he died is mentioned several times, as are a few other people whose intentions she found untrustworthy.
The writing here tends to jump from topic to topic with no logical flow. A recollection of her husband turns into a story about her attempt at a singing career and then a passage about the purloined lawnmower, all within one page. It’s clear she loved her husband and values her family, but those parts of the story are quickly scuttled for a convoluted tale of her struggling to put a registration sticker on her car at the DMV and feeling as though police officers nearby were laughing at her. It speaks volumes about the ways grief can alter one’s thoughts — but possibly not in the way the author intended.
From a Note to a Novel is neither a note nor a novel. It was clearly of therapeutic value to the author, but most readers will find the narrative difficult to follow and challenging to complete.
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