When I was first asked to review Amanda Brooke’s debut novel Yesterday’s Sun, there was no hesitation on my end. Everything about the plot appealed to me, though I was certain it would be an emotional read. And so it sat on my review shelf for a number of weeks until I finally mustered up the courage to get lost within its pages.
Brooke’s Yesterday’s Sun tackles a very difficult subject: would you choose the life of your unborn child over your own? This is exactly what Brooke’s protagonist, Holly, must determine. She and her husband live their lives by a 5 year plan, and they have successfully checked off each item from their first list. Now that it is time to start a new list, Tom wants to include growing their family as one of the check points. As a child Holly felt unwanted; her young mother preferred to party instead of care for her, so Holly is not certain she herself could be a nurturing mother seeing as she had no example in her life.
When Holly sees a vision of her future daughter and her absence in that child’s life, she feels that it is a sign she was never meant to become a mother. However, Holly cannot stop herself from using the mysterious powers of the moon dial to see glimpses of the unborn child whom she is beginning to love. But if Holly does give birth, she will die in labor and leave her beloved husband Tom alone to care for a newborn. With the assistance of Jocelyn, an elderly woman who once lived in Holly’s new home, Holly attempts to find a way to work around the moon dial’s cruel fate for her. Jocelyn knows all too well what the moon dial gives and takes away when a person alters their fate, and tries to convince Holly to let go of the daughter they call Libby. The visions of Libby weigh heavily on Holly’s heart, and they begin affecting Holly’s work and marriage. Holly is quickly running out of time. Will she choose herself or Libby?
I have not been able to stop thinking about Yesterday’s Sun since I finished reading it. Attempting to start reading a new book right away ended in disaster; I DNF’d it (I probably would have anyway, regardless of what I’d read before it). Truth is, Yesterday’s Sun is going to be a hard act to follow. It is one of those rare books that grabbed me and refused to let go from start to finish. I was genuinely concerned for Holly, and would not wish the anguish she was going through on anyone. If I had been in Holly’s shoes, I’m sure I also wouldn’t have been able to resist the pull of the moon dial to see what my future had in store for me. My heart broke along right with Holly’s when she saw how empty and lost Tom was without her. They were such the perfect couple and deserved a life full of happiness raising their daughter together. I was angry for Holly; it just wasn’t fair.
Balancing out the heavier parts of the novel were touching scenes in which Holly forms a mother/daughter bond with Jocelyn. Decades earlier Jocelyn had changed the course of her life after witnessing something truly awful in the moon dial visions. Jocelyn is able to relate to Holly in this way, and in so many others. Because of the decision that Jocelyn made all those years ago, it cost her a relationship with her own son. Through forming a relationship with Holly, Jocelyn gets a second chance at being a parent. She is the mother that Holly never had, and even though I did not agree with some of Jocelyn’s advice for Holly, I never doubted for a moment that Jocelyn had Holly’s best interests in mind.
As I got closer to the end and Holly made the toughest decision of her life, I made a bargain with myself. If the ending was the way I *wanted* it to end, I would award it with a 5-star rating. If it didn’t end the way I wanted it to, I would give it a 4-star rating. Yesterday’s Sun did not let me down; not only did it end the way I predicted (and wanted) it to end, it also ended the only way it made sense for it to end. My vision was a blur as I read the final pages. I haven’t cried nearly this hard for a book since I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Yesterday’s Sun is a book I will recommend to anyone who will listen, and it has earned a permanent spot on my keeper shelf.