The title of Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night comes from a Welsh proverb about how joy is inevitably followed by sorrow.
When Barbara Taylor’s touching first novel opens in September 1913, joy has vanished for the Morgan family of Scranton, Pa.
Two months earlier, the family’s older daughter, Daisy, died of burns suffered in a Fourth of July accident.
Now, her mother, Grace, spends most of her time in bed talking to an imaginary companion; her father, Owen, works in the coal mines 12 hours a day and drinks at bars most of the night; and her younger sister, Violet, blames herself for the accident — as do many of the gossipy neighbors.
Much of the novel pays earnest attention to the slow unwinding of grief, healing and forgiveness.
The story isn’t all somber, though.
Violet’s best friend, Stanley, who skips school to fish and teach Violet bird songs, and befriends the stubborn mule Sophie, adds a note of levity.
And the childless widow Lankowski, who keeps watch over Violet and Stanley and feeds them Polish sweets, is a kindly influence.
A chorus of “church ladies,” meddling and self-satisfied but well-meaning, provides a running commentary on the action.
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