Reviewed by Garret Rose
Anytime someone looks at an abstract drawing or painting, one feels like the picture changes a little every time they view it. Shapes take on different images and colors, and what you thought you saw the first time turns out to be a misinterpretation. Because of this, one must look, think, and rethink what it is they believe they have viewed. This is the case with The Piano Player’s Son, by Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn. Each time one sees the family and the members, the dynamics change. The abstractions shift and so do the ideas of the reader.
Isabel is heart-broken when her husband leaves her and takes their two children with him. To complicate her situation, her father, Henry dies. Henry was in every sense the family patriarch and immensely loved by his endearing wife Eva. Eva has no idea how she will carry on now that her sweetheart has passed away. George, a constant failure and the apple of Henry’s eye is crushed by the news. Grace, sometimes aloof of the family situation, flies from Ischia, Italy to be with her family in this time of grief. Finally, Rick, the eldest and egocentric son, tries to take over all of the affairs, whether or not the others agree. The piano, once played masterfully by Henry, will now become the center of the abstraction as it is the focal piece argued over by the two sons, George and Rick. However, once long-lost secrets are revealed, one learns that the piano is only a small piece of the abstract.
After the funeral services for Henry, the reader starts to see the unwinding of the family. The abstract image of a tight-knit and loving family soon falls by the wayside. Eva is more helpless than ever, Isabel is desperately trying to get her cheating husband back, Rick is dealing with his wife undergoing cancer treatment, and Grace is trying to escape the constraining life of her in-laws. George, who has finally found some success running an art school, wants the rights to the piano, much to the chagrin of Rick. Each character brings their heavy loads home and in a short time, each one has to face an impenetrable fate. Will the family survive once the secrets surface? The family drawing takes on a new image, one that begins to become ugly and dark. Will it ever be rosy and beautiful again? Can the drawing take on a new definition?
Stanberry-Flynn has written a well-paced drama. While some characters remain flat, the others become dynamic. Each one is followed and interwoven into the family fabric seamlessly. However, the melodramatic and violent ending didn’t seem to coincide with the rest of the novel. What was an engaging and interesting story was hijacked by a few pages of chaos that didn’t meld with the prior development. There was an abrupt nature with the climax and falling action that can lead the reader mystified. Despite this, the story and characters are worth investigating and thinking about. The images that the secrets revealed create a new and provocative picture. Nothing looks the same twice. Stanberry-Flynn creates an abstract that leaves one wanting to look at again, to see how their perception has changed throughout the story.
Garret loves literature! He is creating the Vernal Journal for his students as well as anyone else that is interested in literature – be it fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, or even miscellaneous! Garret’s goal is to share, review and make connections to the world and each other.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Cinnamon Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.