Review of The Language of Sand by Ellen Block

March 2, 2015

Is it possible to overcome one the most awful griefs of life, namely the loss of a beloved son and of a husband? This is the main question of “ The Language of Sand “, the bestseller written by Ellen Block, a talented author who became famous around the world just thanks to this poignant and deep novel.

The Language of Sand tells the story of Abigail Harker, a lexicographer who has all a woman can desire in this world: a beloved husband, Paul, and a beloved four year old son: Justin. This happy family lives in a beautiful residence furnished like a country manor. One day, Abigail lost everything: her home, but, above all, her loved son and husband. All lost because of a sudden and unforeseen fire. During the fire, Paul manages to save Abigail, while he and the little son die.

That tragic day, the life of Abigail changes forever. To tell the truth, the book begins after the tragedy happened, but I wanted to write the story of this female character because it is the core and the focus of the entire book. Abigail is a woman who is shaken and destroyed by an immense grief. To try to overcome it, this same woman decides to leave her job and to go to Chapel, Isle, an Island in North Carolina with a view of the sea and an ancient lighthouse.

This Island was where Paul, the husband of Abigail, lived during his childhood. In Chapel Island Abigail takes the role of the guardian of the lighthouse, but her life is not so easy. The past and grief obsess her and the locals are very suspicious. Step by step, Abigail realizes that her neighbors, more or less, have to forget some dreadful experiences, such as the loss of a son, the disease of a wife, the betrayal of a husband, solitude, injustice.

Despite all this, the book shows that Abigail is a very strong woman, strong when she decides to modernize the rooms of the lighthouse, strong when she discovers that Lottie, the funny real estate agent who rented her the home of the lighthouse, has given her a home utterly different than the initial description. In this stage, the disappoint of Abigail, that everybody calls Abby, is described with cheerful and humoristic words. This is perhaps a genial narrative technique to lighten the weight of the plot.

Every chapter of the book always opens with a words drawn by the dictionary, a word that underlines the feelings of the characters of the novel. I warn you that to read this book it is better to have a handy handkerchief. The Language of Sand is indeed a tearjerker book, but this work doesn’t evoke only sadness but also hope and much courage. Tears come out because this work induces all us to think our personal experiences of grief and hope.

Through her experience and sharing with other people torn apart by grief, the character of this book retrieves her hope in life. This book is a great life lesson: grief can’t and mustn’t be forgotten, but only borne and shared with others. To leave this message, the author used wonderful and touching words, nearly poetries. Poetry to announce that despite an unbearable grief, none can help but continue living.

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