Can one terrible moment in your life, cause you to abandon everything you hold dear? Stone Gardens by Lois Cloarec Hart, will tackle that exact question.

Grae Jordan has run away from her family, friends and her old life. A tragedy Grae believes she caused her senior year in college, has caused her to abandon the life she had created for herself. For eight years she has avoided everyone she has ever known, basically becoming a ghost in her hometown. She has changed the way she looks, hiding in tattoos and piercings, and has even altered the way she speaks. Her running away has caused her to live a life of barely making ends meet. She is living in a slum, working a minimum wage job, and all the while taking care of the young man, Marcus, she rescued from the streets.

The beginning of the story Grae runs into trouble, a brawl at her job ends her up in court. Just as Grae is set to enter her not guilty plea for assault, she sees that the judge for the case is her mother, Thea. This moment causes a chain reaction of Grae dealing with her past, and including her family back in to her life. Her mother makes Grae a deal she cannot resist. One year of rent-free living, for her and Marcus, if she will enter into therapy, which she reluctantly agrees to.

Through the course of therapy Grae begins to shed more light on why she is who she is, and why she felt the need to change herself. She enters into new relationships, and works on the ones she let go for many years. Therapy forces Grae to take a hard look on what really happened in college that made her who she has become today.

Stone Gardens has a lot going on. I my personal opinion, it has way too much conflict. It seemed that every chapter had a new ordeal for Grae to overcome. From my perspective, it became exasperating. I could not invest any one issue because it was glossed over and on to the next life altering moment. While the writing is done well, the relationships between the characters is lacking. At times I felt like the dialogue was forced and didn’t sound natural. Particularly the relationship between Grae and Marcus, for some reason it did not ring true to me.

The other issue I had is that the romance of the story is flat and underdeveloped. Grae and her love interest, Kendall have little chemistry but the potential was there, it just didn’t come to fruition. They fall in love way too fast, when as the reader, you get see very little of the building of that relationship. Conversations are implied, but very few were shown. It is hard to become invested, when it is all implied. Also, glossed over was the re-connection with her family. Again, I think this book would have been much better if it has less conflict and more dialogue between the characters.

2.5 out of 5 stars

  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing
Stone Gardens
by Lois Cloarec Hart
Amazon Link:

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