The Sound Of It by Alison Jean Lester

The Sound Of It by Alison Jean Lester
Publisher: Bench Press
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When Su, a divorced mother of one daughter, falls in love with Jeremy, a widowed father of two sons, they want to build a life together, but neither of their houses in Worcester is big enough for a family of five. They decide to build a dream house in farmland outside the city, in which to live happily ever after. For sound designer Su, it’s an opportunity to create an embracing home and heal past wounds of betrayal and loss, while failed entrepreneur Jeremy sees a chance to impress his overbearing father.

But what happens when hidden financial misjudgments cloud the horizon? What happens when some family ties grow strong and others don’t grow at all?

The Sound of It looks at parenting and at step-parenting, when expectations are high, dreams are big, and the Internet is very dangerous.

Dreaming is easier than making a dream come true.

The subplots about social media and Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response videos made this feel like a modern and fresh read. I’ve never read a book that included a character who knew about ASMR before, and was curious to see how it would be covered here. Their reaction to social media and ASMR told me a lot about that individual’s personality and added an additional layer of conflict that kept me reading.

Su and Jeremy repeatedly made rash decisions that left me shaking my head. They struggled to predict logical consequences for their actions or to verify things they were told that sounded too good to be true. I found myself wishing that these character flaws had been explained better. Did both of them have mental or physical health conditions that affected their cognitive abilities and short-term memories? Was there some other explanation for their illogical behavior? How did the author expect her readers to react to these scenes? These would have all been excellent themes to explore in depth and I would have happily gone with a higher rating if that had happened. As it was, though, I found myself shaking my head at their poor decision-making skills even though I otherwise liked them as individuals.

I enjoyed seeing how the relationships in this novel evolved in general. It takes work to blend two families together, and the process won’t always necessarily be a smooth one. The relationships between Su, Jeremy, her daughter, and his sons were probed from every possible angle. It was interesting to compare how the relationships between individual stepparents, stepchildren, biological parents, and biological siblings varied not only between individuals but also over time as they all got to know each other better.

The Sound Of It was a thought-provoking read.

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