Songs in Ordinary Time, by Mary McGarry Morris, is a novel set in the small village of Atkinson, Vermont in the early 1960’s. It’s the end of the school year when expectations are high, and people figure the summer will never end.There’s a definite struggle in the village to hang on to the complacency of an earlier age, but the young are headed for a different direction. A tumultuous social upheaval is on the horizon while Marie Fermoyle, a divorced single mother, tries to put bread on the table for her three children, and to teach them to be strong, to never give up—no matter what. She never does, weathering through the constant humiliations of her ex-husband’s alcoholic blunders, her teenagers’ brash behaviour, and to upkeep the almost hovel condition of her house. She screams, she rants, she bullies, but walks proud and repels anybody who wants to butt into her affairs.
Until … Omar Duvall, a thief and murderer, enters her life and tears down the walls of her loneliness.
This is a long read (740 pages), but a page-turner which will leave you wondering how these weird, but loveable, characters are doing long after you finish the book. This is a masterful rendition of the human condition, each character’s worst fears and fondest hope captured in their own personal song. Their songs might be sad and depressing, but woven together become a chant of hope and survival.