Publication Date: August 21, 2014
In a shooting rampage, Monroe Song’s husband took several innocent lives including the lives of three of her sons. In the wake of the devastation, she is less living life than managing to stay alive. Involving herself with a 24-year-old is perhaps not her best option, especially when her surviving son needs her so desperately. Like Shards of Glass is a tale of love, loss, betrayal and murder.
The author, R.H. Ramsey, gave me a copy of this novel as an advanced reader’s copy (ARC) in exchange for my review. Content may have changed between the copy that I received and the date of publication.
Ramsey said that Like Shards of Glass was a short story that took on a life of its own. In reading this poignant and emotionally insightful story, I wondered where she had planned to stop. Any missing piece of this complex and tragic tale would have been a loss. Ramsey alternates the point-of-view between Monroe, the 24-year-old Dominique and Monroe’s surviving son, Karter. The first-hand perspective of each player gives us his or her unique view of his or her past and present and soul, deep fears and sorrow. There’s a sense, especially from Monroe, of being so far gone that even a glimpse of one day living above the tragedy is just something she cannot bring herself to hope will happen. As usual with Ramsey’s work, the inner workings of the characters are profound and perhaps rather inevitable. Like Shards of Glass takes Ramsey into the thriller genre, illustrating that this author clearly owns whatever she wants to write.
Monroe is a deeply complex character. She was trapped in a relationship with a man on the edge and when he cracked, he did it in the most devastating way possible. Along with survivor’s guilt, there is a wave of pain rolling off of Monroe whenever we meet her. The character’s curse is that Carter left her to live. She, in a lot of ways, has given up and Domnique, her 24-year-old lover is her enabler in the quest of forgetting that she ever was Monroe Song. She’s on board for alcohol, drugs and sex. Escape in any form works for this character. Monroe skates the thin line between sex, drugs and danger for the rare chance to feel something different. Dominque describes her as a butterfly, which is descriptive of her character’s interaction in the story itself. Her metamorphosis may not be one that is positive or prettier than the life she’s living.
Karter is bred in a family whose daily life involves violence. His father Carter lost mental footholds and the son knew early on that he was losing himself. In a flash-back scene, the father humiliates his son in front of relatives and friends and the son punishes those bystanders for being there when the embarrassment happens. Monroe is horrified when Carter holds her back laughing off the violence. She recognizes the damage this is doing not only to the people he’s hurting but to the psyche of her son, and she’s powerless to stop the cycle of abuse. This scene especially defines what the character becomes for the reader and whom he struggles to ensure that he won’t become. Ramsey sets a character for us that could truly go either way and in so doing, adds tension. This is not an author who is bound by the rules of happily-ever-after. This is an author who writes for her story and takes drastic risks that won’t appeal to all audiences, but readers cannot deny that it is brilliantly reasoned and plotted.
In common with Ramsey’s other work is that this story provides character studies of its subjects. These are wholly developed people with defined dysfunction. None of the focal characters are good for each other and within their experiences together they either grow or refine their inability to come together as a viable support system.
As always, Ramsey gives us characters that we could be passing in daily life. It is not difficult to imagine Keith Morrison of Dateline giving the background of this story in his dramatic cadence and intonation. I have always been a fan of this author but the development of the plot is an uncharacteristic delight. I love psychological thrillers and Like Shards of Glass has such extremes of the human experience and general engaging dysfunction that I would mark this novel at the top the genre.
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R.H. Ramsey is a military wife and mother of two who has made learning a purpose in her life.