Imagine living to age 40 without hearing someone say “I Love You” and knowing there was no one who even cared whether you lived or died. It saddens me to think about it. But that was Carmel’s life in Ireland, until the day she got a Facebook message from a doctor who said he’d been looking for her for years. He had letters to her from her mother. How could that be? Carmel had grown up as a ward of the state. She had no childhood memories except those from Trinity House where she grew up under the watchful eyes of the Catholic nuns. She had no mother or father, or any family for that matter. But Carmel would eventually learn the truth about her birth and where she came from. More importantly, meeting Dr. Sharif Khan proved to be the true beginning of Carmel Sheehan’s life.
In the beginning I was impatient with Carmel as she so calmly accepts her meager life as though she shouldn’t expect anything more. I wanted to shake her and make her stop letting the people around her treat her like an old shoe. But as Grainger does so well, Carmel’s life slowly unfolds and she instinctively feels something is amiss, but having never known anything different, she can’t puzzle out the source of her dissatisfaction.
“Letters of Freedom” is Book One, a novella, in ‘The Carmel Sheehan Story’ by Jean Grainger. As a reader I generally avoid novellas. Because of their brevity I don’t find them as satisfying as a full length story. But I must credit Grainger for packing a riveting tale in these short pages. They thoroughly whetted my appetite for more. Four stars.
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