“I don’t want to live out my destiny without you. We were supposed to be together forever, remember? We’re, unsevered.”
“As I walked back inside, I saw a sign above the front entrance. It read, UNSEVERED.”
These are some of the memorable words that echo within the reader’s mind as they enter the world created in Traci Sanders’ heartbreaking, romantic yet hopeful book, Unsevered.
At first glance, Unsevered presents a tragedy of fate, where destiny seems to be unspeakably cruel in destroying the future of a young couple, Jewel and Harley Decker. But as readers delve into the pages of this book, there is the realization that love is never final, that soul mates are forever connected. Love is that promise of a new beginning amidst heartache. The gift of love is an enduring bond that exists beyond death. This bond is, gratefully, unsevered.
Sanders uses a first person narrative approach in telling Jewel’s story. Jewel is an appealing character who speaks to us because her qualities reflect us. She is loyal and sensitive yet craves love and faults her romantic choices. When she meets Harley, an Air man, there is an instant connection between them. Harley shares intimate details of his life that, in a way, prove chilling in its focus on the theme of loss that frame the book. My first thought was that Sanders is a powerful writer who subtly uses foreshadowing to effectively advance her plot. My instinct was correct. Soon afterward Jewel and Harley are married, tragedy forces them apart. We see Jewel struggle with how she will go on with her life.
Sanders uses a writing tool that is risky, but offers rewards when done well as Sanders so skillfully does here: She moves her story from past to present. Consequently, we see Jewel deal with the tragedy occurring in the present as her mind allows her to travel through memorable past events in her life. Because Jewel is our central protagonist as well as our narrator, we need to fully embrace the depths of her pain. Her loss of Harley is real and quite raw. It is also the loss of a future. Jewel’s life was altered when fate unexpectedly decided to change direction from the road of happiness towards the road of sorrow.
If this was a story confined to grief and the anger often rising from loss, I suspect the reader would quickly lose interest. If this was a story where the couple meet, fall in love and live happily ever after, the reader might smile at the formula fairytale; yet, character development would be missing.
Instead, this book uses death as a springboard to speak to destiny in an interesting way: Sanders cleverly reshaped Jewel’s life. For a woman who felt that tragedy stole her will to go on, she finds a renewed purpose born from heartache.
In addition, while this book falls within the romance genre, Sanders decided that suspense and a supernatural element would enrich the story which it does. We learn about Harley mainly through Jewel’s recollections. But that doesn’t mean that Harley doesn’t make several appearances despite his death. This is where the theme of hope comes into play. Sanders has Harley be the one to tell Jewel that she has a new destiny to fulfill. In fulfilling that destiny, both Jewel and Harley can find peace. What that destiny is, Harley won’t say. But he does leave Jewel a very special gift that renews her purpose in living.
I especially appreciate when an author uses an intriguing book title to highlight the message of her book. I was hooked by the title Unsevered from the outset. I applaud how Sanders reminds us of the importance of this title throughout the book.
Finally, Sanders’ descriptive writing style serves the story quite well. Jewel and Harley’s home has an ocean view. Sanders doesn’t take this locale for granted. At times as I was reading, the ocean became a metaphor for Jewel’s emotions. Crashing waves of anger then the still waters of determination. I appreciated the visual.
None of us are immune to the death of a loved one. One of the hardest aspects of grief (particularly when confronting an untimely death of someone you love) is finding the strength to want to continue with your own life. Sanders addresses this very real predicament with sensitivity and courage. Unsevered is a must read book.