Jane happens upon Caleb, a street musician who had a brief connection with Melody in her final months and whom Jane recognizes as the young man who attended Melody’s funeral. Longing to discover a connection with her daughter and move through her grief, Jane finds herself inexplicably drawn to Caleb and a journey through her grief.
In this beautifully written story, author Ryan Winfield taps into Jane’s grief and guilt with quiet effectiveness. Winfield conveys not only the complexity of Jane’s emotions as she comes to terms with her grief of losing a daughter, and the guilt of having been estranged from her for her last year of life, but also Jane’s continued struggles with life and the living – her own mother and brother that continue while she is doing her best to grieve and sort through her daughter’s unknown past.
Winfield’s language is restrained, revealing the bonds that Jane has with her friend Grace, contrasted greatly with the relationship she had with her own daughter, for example, when Jane picks up a box of Melody’s things from her apartment and the roommate is surprised to meet her: “Melody never mentioned nothing about having any family around here.’’
The friendship between Jane and Grace is also an efficient vehicle to convey out Jane’s pain, grief as well as her strength, sensitivity and tenderness, and allows for some poetic moments and redemption for Jane who was unable to provide her own daughter with support before her untimely death.
The growing bond between Jane and Caleb is also portrayed with subtle and compelling sensitivity, revealing Jane’s healing as she finds love and redemption in her relationship with Caleb. The intimacy and love scenes between the two are rich, sensual and tasteful: “When the flood had subsided to tiny waves of pleasure, he pulled free, rolled over onto his back, and pulled her into his arms.”
At times Winfield slips into some generalizing, for example, “Overall, his eulogy was very nice.” However, Winfield also offers some wonderful metaphors, for example when Jane is second guessing herself and her courage to move on, “a million Mexican free-tailed bats flew from beneath the bridge and funneled up into the crimson sky,” and a “strange peace” falls over her.
JANE’S MELODY is a masterfully orchestrated love story about a woman’s journey through grief and sorrow.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader.com