Sunday, June 8, 2014

How Sweet the Sound by Vanessa Miller

Shar Gracey can sing. She also needs to earn money to help pay for her mother's expensive medical treatment. When she is offered the opportunity to travel with the Thomas A. Dorsey choir and Mahalia Jackson, she accepts. She can earn money selling sheet music.

She leaves behind Pastor Landon Norstrom who was courting her with plans to marry. When he couldn't talk her out of going, he promised to wait for her. Their relationship goes awry when Landon failed to receive any letters from her, nor she from him. Only later it comes out that a love struck church secretary intercepted the letters.

Looking for love, Shar falls pray to a no good fellow who convinces her to make money by singing in low life places. She knew she was being played the fool, but what could she do? And before long, she was even enjoying singing in the nightclub. But a mugging leaves her voice in tatters and the no good fellow gone from her life. She had betrayed her calling from God. What could she do?

This is a good historical novel of the 1930s Chicago. It was the time of Restrictive Covenants that barred Negroes from purchasing homes in certain areas in major cities, such as Chicago. Miller helps us understand the situation and the difficulty in changing it. The story line also gives readers a sense of what life was like for African Americans during this era. The story is woven around a romance as well.

Much of the novel is based on historical fact. Thomas A. Dorsey was an African American pioneer in jazz and wrote many gospel songs. I wish there had been an author's note included in the book to clarify which events and people are historical and which are fiction.

Reading this novel was a bit of a cultural shock for me. I'm just not used to the language structure and dialog style of African Americans. Because of that, I had a little difficulty in completing the book. Those who enjoy novels of a different culture and time will enjoy this one.

Vanessa Miller is a bestselling author, playwright, and devotional speaker. Her novels have won several awards. She lives with her family in Charlotte, North Carolina. Find out more at

Abingdon Press, 272 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

No comments: