Title & Author: The Law of Moses, Amy Harmon
Genre & Publication Date: Paranormal/Romance, November 27, 2014
Book Description: “If I tell you right up front, right in the beginning that I lost him, it will be easier for you to bear. You will know it’s coming, and it will hurt. But you’ll be able to prepare.
Someone found him in a laundry basket at the Quick Wash, wrapped in a towel, a few hours old and close to death. They called him Baby Moses when they shared his story on the ten o’clock news – the little baby left in a basket at a dingy Laundromat, born to a crack addict and expected to have all sorts of problems. I imagined the crack baby, Moses, having a giant crack that ran down his body, like he’d been broken at birth. I knew that wasn’t what the term meant, but the image stuck in my mind. Maybe the fact that he was broken drew me to him from the start.
It all happened before I was born, and by the time I met Moses and my mom told me all about him, the story was old news and nobody wanted anything to do with him. People love babies, even sick babies. Even crack babies. But babies grow up to be kids, and kids grow up to be teenagers. Nobody wants a messed up teenager.
And Moses was messed up. Moses was a law unto himself. But he was also strange and exotic and beautiful. To be with him would change my life in ways I could never have imagined. Maybe I should have stayed away. Maybe I should have listened. My mother warned me. Even Moses warned me. But I didn’t stay away.
And so begins a story of pain and promise, of heartache and healing, of life and death. A story of before and after, of new beginnings and never-endings. But most of all . . . a love story.”
First Line: The first few words of every story are always the hardest to write.
My Take: If you’ve never read an Amy Harmon novel, there are a few things that will take you by surprise. The first is how she breaks all kinds of craft rules with writing. There’s exposition in the beginning, usually a lot. Sometimes she jumps point of view in the middle of a chapter, more than once (not especially with this one but with other books of hers I’ve read), and she starts a story waaaaaay at the beginning of things. I’m saying, like, Genesis level beginnings. I can think of three novels at least in which her characters start out either as children or young teens and move through the years to adulthood. With all this rule breaking you’d think she’d lose you early on, that your attention would wane and you’d be like, “Feh, this is taking too long and explaining too much.”
But that’s not how it is. That’s the magic of this author’s storytelling. She doesn’t lose you. In fact, the more you read the more you cannot put the thing down. The scope keeps getting bigger, your investment in the characters more visceral, until you’re racing through the pages because this isn’t just a story anymore, it’s an all consuming urgency to know, to see, to understand. It’s one of those stories that consumes you. These people are real. What’s happening to them is real. That was the Law of Moses for me. Why? Because just like in real life, things don’t always work out on the first try. Or the second. Projecting our own loneliness and despair, we hurt each other. We move on impulse and learn the lesson from it after we crash headlong into the sea. How this is depicted here is beautiful, the way loss and memory can become beautiful even when steeped in regret.
You might have noticed I haven’t said a lot of details about the story itself. That’s because I don’t want to give away the big “thing” of this novel. It’s not given away in the description and I was so happy to experience the main twist (oh, and there are multiple ones!) from the point where I was, “Hm, wonder what that was all about…” to “Woah, THAT’S what’s going on???”. So, I don’t want to ruin that for you because it’s awesome.
The Magical: It’s got to be those moments in the book where I got those rumbles of dread in the pit of my stomach that grew and grew until the dread turned into great tectonic plates crashing with splintering force into the events unfolding before me. The author did this to me at least *counts on fingers* three times in this book.
Oh, and then there was this paragraph right at the prologue. Seriously one of the best prologues I’ve ever seen (and I usually hate them):
“I can’t tell you how it felt. How it still feels. I can’t. Words feel cheap and ring hollow and turn everything I say, everything I feel, into a tawdry romance novel full of flowery phrases designed to illicit sympathetic tears and an immediate response. A response that has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with easy emotion that you can set aside when you close the cover. Emotion that has you wiping your eyes and chirping a happy hiccup, appreciating the fact that it was all just a story. And best of all, not your story. But this isn’t like that.
Because it is my story. And I wasn’t prepared.”
The Mundane: Some will say the story is too long but I didn’t get that. I can see why it would wear on the patience of readers who prefer a faster pace, but that’s not the style here and nothing ever implies that it is. Go into this like a journey. Walk it carefully and watch the landscape around you. There is always something amazing to see.
Summary of Thoughts: Well, I waxed rather poetical on this review so I think you all get the gist that I loved this book. Sooooo much! It could’ve been just a straight up romance (and there’s nothing wrong with those) but this one took its time to develop the big themes. Longing, loss, growth, joy. Lots of that last one among the wreckage that life can hand you. This was moving, intertwining pain with hope. I can’t recommend it enough. Grab your copy on Amazon.
My first review of 2018 and its five stars. A great start to the year:)
Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews here (Beware of spoilers!!)
Want to know more about the author and her work? Explore her website here