It is rare for me to read a book that makes me cry. I’ve had books touch my heart in the same way a good song will. It was different with Looking for Mary Gabriel. I stumbled onto a part that you don’t see coming, and it’s shockingly heartbreaking.
Bonita Gaberiel wants a normal childhood with a normal sister but there’s nothing normal about her younger sister, Mary. Mary suffers from a mental illness that causes her to act on impulse, see and hear things no one else can, and to take off without warning. Bonita’s father appoints her Mary’s keeper. At times it seems he’s only trying to instill the importance of family. Then there are moments when he’s asking too much and his motives are questionable. Bonita and Mary’s mother had a sister who suffered with mental illness that led her to commit suicide. Their mother worries it’s her fault and she doesn’t want Bonita to ever feel responsible for Mary but rather than share this with Bonita, it is kept secret from her. At times it appears their mother is wanting to protect Bonita and other times it seems she just can’t deal with her sister’s death.
Bonita struggles with wanting to protect her sister and wanting a normal life away from Mary. A tragedy occurs which leads Bonita away from her family and then another tragedy happens that cuts Bonita’s ties with her family. She chooses a quite life hidden away from family and friends who love her more than she thought possible. With the passing of Bonita and Mary’s father, Bonita is forced to emerge from her hidden life to handle funeral arrangements and deal with Mary. What she thought was true is contradicted by what she learns is true.
Beautifully and poetically written, the story of a family that is flawed is wonderfully conveyed on every page. ‘Looking for Mary Gabriel’ is a story that shares the love of family and the harsh truths about family making it relatable. It’s a book that can be read a 2nd and 3rd time; each time bringing some new fascination to the reader. I give it 5 stars and recommend it to everyone who loves reading.
This was written for Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop – Prompt 3. Head over to Mama Kat’s and choose a prompt.