L.L. Tremblay writes her novel in the first person, bringing an authentic sensitivity to a haunting story of love and loss. Grappling with personal, family, friend, partner and mystical relationships, several tumultuous life-defining events unfold in this heartfelt drama. Tremblay crafts an absorbing story that reaches into our desire to have a force that protects and guides us through life.
Ellen is a seven-year-old girl, who while playing with her best friend Anna, witnesses her being killed on the street by a passing van. The mix of tragic emotions and loss are only exacerbated by Anna’s mother casting blame on Ellen. The look she gave that twists her soul to say, this is your fault! Why my daughter and not you? While grief has many faces the impact on a seven-year-old who feels responsible is traumatic, damaging, incomprehensible, and can shift our spiritual axis to being more aware or understanding of otherworld possibilities. Ellen first sees Anna’s ethereal presence that evening.
“At first, I thought that it might be one of my sisters, but after I rubbed my eyes it became clearer – it was a little girl and she was smiling at me. She whispered, ‘Ellen, it’s me. Anna.’ I bolted upright in a cold sweat, my heart racing. ‘Anna?’ ‘Yes, Ellen.’ ‘But you’re supposed to be dead’ ‘I am dead.’ ‘Does that mean… wait, am I dead too?’ ‘No, silly. I just came back to tell you that what happened today is not your fault.’ ”
From that night on, Anna is a frequent presence for Ellen but she is often accompanied by an older woman, sometimes a younger woman, without knowing who they are or why they should appear. A mystery that will remain for a very long time. She only knows that the women bring a caring and protective force, unlike other dark spirits that growl in the shadows. Another mystery is tantalisingly developed as real life and a persistent dream are cleverly woven together.
“I was in a house I’d never seen before, and was greeted by a seven-year-old boy who took me by the hand and led me down a long and narrow corridor, which was lined with seven closed doors. As we proceeded down the hallway, he opened each door one by one. The seventh door, however, was locked and wouldn’t budge, no matter how much he tried to force the knob to turn.”
Seven Roses, while an entertaining story full of drama, also offers a delicate layer that explores the psychological twists of managing and debating the capabilities of the human mind to create imaginary friends or have sight beyond the grave. How Ellen coped with these visions, how others sceptically treated her when she tried to explain, was very telling on how we support family and friends to cope with challenging and difficult topics. Whether we have a guardian angel, a benevolent spirit, or just our conscience, we are reminded to listen to that inner voice and see exactly what is in front of us, either to help overcome terrible times or avoid making perilous choices.
I would reiterate the words, author Wendy Waters, used to L.L. Tremblay, “Thank you for the gift of roses.” The seven roses in the story have a deep meaning but I guess you’re going to have to read the book to discover what they relate to. I would highly recommend this novel to those that enjoy supernatural tones to an engaging personal drama full of suspense, loyalty and mystery.