The Stone Necklace by Carla Damron

"There were many things that frightened him, but most were on the inside." ~ Joe


Book Cover provided by Amazon.com

The Stone Necklace by Carla Damron
"Clawing chest pains and a fiery car crash take one life and change the destiny of four others. The Stone Necklace braids together the stories of a grieving widow, a struggling nurse, a young mother, and a troubled homeless man, reminding us of the empowering and surprising ways our lives touch one another and how, together, we can recover from even the greatest of losses.

Carla Damron weaves the stories of four people in Columbia, South Carolina, whose seemingly disparate existences intersect through tragedies realized and tragedies averted. Lena Hastings survived breast cancer and marital infidelity but now faces an uncertain future and crises with her teenaged daughter Becca without the support of the one person she has always counted on. Intensive care nurse Sandy Albright, newly released from drug rehab, confronts temptations from her past and false accusations threatening her career, leaving her to wonder if a drug-free life is really living. Tonya Ladson, a mother whose child is injured in the wreck, must decide if her domineering husband is right and a lawsuit will solve their financial problems. Joe Booker, a homeless man who sleeps in a graveyard, loses his gentle benefactor and must either succumb to the real and imagined evils of his world or find the heretofore-untapped courage to care for himself and for others as a stranger once cared for him. Weighted down by their respective pasts, the characters must make life-altering choices that reverberate into the fates of the others, ultimately bringing them together in unexpected but healing acts of compassion, forgiveness, and redemption.

The Stone Necklace includes a foreword from novelist Patti Callahan Henry." - Amazon.com. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Carla at Arts on the Ridge 2018, which is hosted by the amazing town of Ridgeway, SC.

"Great things come out of the blue." ~ Lena


Carla Damron - Provide by her Facebook page
Review:
First you must understand that Carla is a Social Worker, and she is one of the best in her field. She has seen several situations, which I believe allowed her to write The Stone Necklace in very realistic and descriptive way.

There are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Now, take a good look at this book. It is about Lena Hastings, her daughter (Becca Hastings), Joe Booker, Sandy Albright, and Tonya Ladson. That’s five people. **Mind Blown!**

Carla doesn’t do a stage per character though. She is a MUCH better writer than that. I highly recommend this book for the writing alone. The way she turns phrases drives me crazy in the way that I wish I could do it as well. But, let’s get back to the story.

We’ll start with the Hastings family. You need to know that Mitch Hastings touches every single person in this novel. He causes the accident that causes Tonya to miss a day of work, and her son (Byron) has to go to the ER where John (her husband) freaks out a little. Sandy is Mitches nurse. Joe Booker is the homeless man that Mitch respects, so he looks out for him. And he is Becca’s favorite parent.

Lena waited until her youngest son moved out of her house before she decided to take art classes. While taking these classes she fell in love with her art instructor, Royce. This caused her to leave her family, and five weeks later Royce discovered a lump on Lena’s breast. (If I’m not mistaken) She had a double mastectomy and loads of chemo/radiation and ultimately defeated her cancer. However, she beat her monster because her husband, Mitch, took her back and nursed her back to health. With all eyes on Lena, the family really neglected the youngest member, Becca. Her mother basically said stay here with your father while I go explore myself.

Becca, feeling like she’s lost all sense of control, throws herself into exercise and calorie counting. Her close barely hang onto her body, but no one notices how bad it is because if I’m being honest no one is really looking at Becca. They all think her dieting is just a phase, but it is truly an unhealthy habit that gets much worse when her mother returns and then her father dies. And then come the money problems.

To me, Lena is a mix of denial and depression while Becca is full on denial and rage. This can’t be happening, but it’s sad and anger-making.

Skipping ahead to Joe… Joe has no one to take care of him now. Mitch was leaving gifts like coats, socks, and gloves for Joe, but Mitch dies in the hospital and there’s nothing left. However, Joe thought those gifts were from the Lord, so when Mitch stops coming around Joe notices, and he goes through his own bought. The word is never mentioned, but Joe has schizophrenia. Joe describes hearing voices that tell him different things. The lord encourages him to help people while the devil tells him to hurt people. The lord is the reason why Joe almost goes back to jail for simply helping a sick Becca and also why he kills a man for a fellow street walker. Joe is a good man, but he doesn’t believe it so he spends all his time trying to prove it. Mostly he tries to prove it to Mitch’s family because they believe in him. Joe represents the bargaining phase, I think. If Mitch continues to watch over Joe and bless him, then Joe will take care of Mitch’s family.

Sandy Albright’s roll in Mitch’s grief phase tale is acceptance. Sandy has her own ball field full of issues. She’s a drug addicted, and she’s going back to the job that she stole from (charges weren’t fully filed because of reputation issues with the hospital). She’s struggling hard, every day. However, she takes a moment to talk to Lena and to Becca. She helps lead this family to acceptance while going through grief of her miscarriage, her lost marriage, and her ex-husbands successes. Sandy is carrying the weight of the world, and she still just wants to help. She is inspirational.

And last but not least is Tonya Ladson. She’s dealing with marrying to young, having a child in an unstable marriage, and an inconsiderate husband. I, honestly, got the vibe that John was cheating on her with that legal aid they were using to sue Mitch’s insurance company. Which I heartedly agree with Tonya, it is distasteful to sue Mitch’s insurance and worry his family when he just DIED! Like really, John, grow a brain. (Sorry, John makes me super angry).  Anyways, I believe Tonya was depressed because her husband acted like he didn’t really want her, but he wanted her pay-day. He didn’t want to help her better herself. Instead, John controlled her, and Tonya let him because she was too sad to see it. She partially blamed herself for Mitch’s death for a portion of the book (even though he was the ticketed driver). Tonya has to dig herself out of a depressing hole with her family and her finances and her job. Tonya, in my opinion, shows the most growth, and I love her for it. I didn’t like her character to begin with because I desperately wanted her to tell John off, but by the end of the novel I was proud of her. I had to let her work up her nerve, because ultimately she did tell her husband off, and it was worth it.


So I give The Stone Necklace by Carla Damron four and a half out of five stars. There’s always room for improvement, but this book was pretty close to perfect as is. The only thing that left me wanting was Joe’s relationship with the Hastings. I wanted something more than an uncomfortable moment of him sitting with them, sipping water, before they allowed him to go back to work. I wanted substance to that relationship, but then again maybe that’s not a realistic expectation. This novel was so ‘real life’ that I trust Carla to know that is how that moment was supposed to go, even if it does leave me wanting more.


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Up next, I’ll be reviewing My Last Last Name is Grace by Beaty Miller. If you have a book you’d like reviewed please message me a link to your book, or make sure I know where to get a copy of it.

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