“Happiness, as it exists in the wild—as opposed to those artificially constructed moments like weddings and birthday parties, where it’s gathered into careful piles—is not smooth. Happiness in the real world is mostly just resilience and a willingness to arch oneself toward optimism. To believe that people are more good than bad. To believe that the waves carrying you are neither friendly nor malicious, and to know that you’re less likely to drown if you stop struggling against them.” ―Carolyn Parkhurst,
Carolyn Parkhurst is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels, The Dogs of Babel, Lost and Found and The Nobodies Album, as well as a children’s book, Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly. Harmony is the first book I have read by Parkhurst, but if her other books are written as beautifully then I think I may have just found a new favorite author!
Alexandra Hammond knows that her daughter, Tilly, is different from other kids her age. Growing up, she was smarter than the other children but lacked social competence. Once Tilly, whose condition is unidentifiable but considered to be on the Autism spectrum, is kicked out of yet another school in the D.C. area-Alexandra turns to charismatic child behavior specialist Scott Bean. Scott Bean convinces the Hammonds to join two other families and himself in New Hampshire to help jumpstart Camp Harmony. Will their discovery in the woods of New Hampshire be able to hold their family together or will their experiences alter them forever?
The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Alexandra and her youngest daughter Iris, which works on so many levels. Through the eyes of Alexandra we are able to see the struggles of a mother taking care of a child with a mental illness and the instances leading up to her decision to take her family to Camp Harmony. Through Iris’ point of view, we can see how Tilly’s illness and her mother’s decisions are affecting the rest of the family and how they are faring once they make it to New Hampshire. Parkhurst really delves into the characters back stories and emotions, which make them very believable. My favorite character was Iris because she is a child who is having these new strange experiences and you are so aware of that!
Harmony is an extremely well written novel! The dialogue can only be described as epigrammatic and authentic. With the help of the beautiful cover and the crisp written details, I was able to picture Camp Harmony and the members of the families very well. The book is filled with VERY adult style content and language, so if that’s not your thing you may want to skip this one. I had no idea what to expect when I picked it up, then I began making assumptions half way through, but by the end I was so surprised with the outcome! I would recommend this book to all readers who enjoy any type of adult fiction.