Kensington, Apr 2008, $12.95
Three years ago in Fairbrook, a suburb of San Diego, Claire Harper’s life ended when a hit and run driver killed her young son Erik. Since then she lost her faith in God and her marriage to Ron; she just passes through life as a living dead person because she never has gotten past the early stages of grief. Every day after work, Claire stops at Mulberry Park to jog for miles in an effort to be so exhausted she can sleep through the night, but her grief overwhelms her fatigue.
One evening as she runs, a pink envelop falls from a nearby tree. Claire picks it up to see a note inside written "To God From Analisa". The seven year old child begs God to care for her parents who are in Heaven with him. Although she no longer believes, Claire writes back hoping to help Analisa with her faith in the Lord. Soon they become pen pals although the child thinks God is responding to her; ironically the correspondence helps Claire return to life. As she comes back, Claire befriends the Mulberry Park regulars, whom she ignored since her son’s death as she realizes they need kind words, mental and physical hugs, chess opponents and more just like she does.
There are several other fully developed characters in the superbly written MULBERRY PARK that will touch the readers’ hearts as much as Analisa and Claire do as all needing companionship. The elderly chess player Walter is a great example of this as he plays by himself, but would love tutoring others in the game. With a heavenly nod that God does not need snail; or e-mail to read what is in one’s heart, readers will appreciate this strong character study that affirms people need people.