Siblings Riley and Aidan Gordon are survivors. Together, they survived an abusive childhood, and when a fiery accident incinerates all they have—except for each other—they survive that, too. The tragedy leaves them with burdens and pain beyond their years, but it also sets them free to forge their own paths. Aidan’s road to happiness seems smooth and carefree. But Riley continues to struggle, her only saving grace being a passion for music that helps soothe her damaged soul. As their paths diverge and college looms, Riley will have to depend less on Aidan and more on herself. Fear of failure drives her, but will finding love derail her single-minded determination to succeed, or will it open the door to the family she’s always wanted?
On average I see a post a week on Facebook from an author who is in synopsis Hell. The synopsis is critical to drawing in readers and if it isn’t done well then a reader will likely bypass a book. As we all know, there are far too many books and far too little time J I was totally attracted to The Melody of Light based on its synopsis and beautiful cover but found that the synopsis didn’t come anywhere close to conveying the awesome that is this read.
Riley and Aidan Gordon have only ever had themselves to rely on. As young children their parents were tragically taken from them and unbelievably, that wasn’t the worst thing that happened to them. The Gordon children’s nightmare moved into full-blown night terrors when they were placed with their aunt and uncle who saw the children as targets for their anger and addiction issues. Between the beatings, the burnings and, the general lack of care, it is a miracle the two survived up to the moment their “caregivers” were killed. For the next decadeish, the Gordon children spend their lives at a state-run home and though it isn’t ideal, they are together and find ways to make the best of their situation. For Aidan that means excelling at sports, making a load of friends and, looking forward to a likely college scholarship. For Riley, making friends is not at all easy as her continuing nightmares and scars make it difficult for others – especially kids – to accept and/or understand her. Riley is never really a happy person but when she discovers the cello and her innate skill is recognized, her life becomes bearable and music becomes her escape. As the years pass, Riley understands that music is her way out and if she works hard and focuses she will be able to go to college on a music scholarship.
Aidan is slightly older than Riley and as his eighteenth birthday approaches, he and Riley know they are going to be separated for the first time in their lives. What neither knows is the path they each have planned will be radically altered by forces well beyond their control. For Aidan, that means enlistment with the Marines after a career-ending injury derails his college plans and for Riley, it means the once-thought impossible, a life in Austin after receiving a HUGE scholarship to UT. The only time Riley has any real confidence is when she is playing her cello and without Aidan by her side, Austin is a damn scary prospect but she is willing to take the risk. Riley has worked hard for her scholarship and though she has a heavy course load and a part time job, she is committed to keeping her scholarship and making all the sacrifices worth enduring. For Riley, this means laser-focus and allowing nothing to divert her attention. Funny though, life has so many other plans for Riley. Within weeks, Riley discovers her roommate is a heinous bitch, she acknowledges her sexual identity, one of her regular customers, Beth has a crush on her, Riley develops a crush on an upper class symphony member, Tori and, Riley finds she can survive without Aidan by her side but the worry over his safety is sometimes overwhelming.
As the weeks continue to pass, Riley finds that for the first time in her life, she can find ways to be happy outside of music. She avoids her roommate at all costs, she develops a true friendship with Tori who helps her navigate the UT Music Department, she begins a very new and exciting relationship with Beth and, Aidan calls her and/or emails her every chance he gets in order to alleviate some of her concerns. Though the pressures on her time and abilities are often strained, Riley actually begins to flourish and though she still has a high level of insecurity and her past still plagues her, she is learning to truly live her life and accepts that there may, in fact be a happy future for she and her brother. Then, the world shifts horribly off its axis and in the span of just a few weeks, everything Riley has built crumbles around her. The heinous roommate finally plays her hand, her relationship with Beth is threatened and, Aidan’s safety is called into question. Each event in and of itself would be enough to derail Riley and her future but taken all together in such a short amount of time and Riley’s sanity and life are both horribly called into question.
The Bottom Line: Make no mistake about it, The Melody of Light is not an easy or happy read but it is a very good read with an incredibly strong message. Riley and Aidan Gordon have had very, very little in their lives that have brought them true and lasting pleasure. For Aidan, the Marines offer him a career, stability and, friendship beyond anything he has ever known. Riley’s life has paralleled Aidan’s in so many ways but her relationships and stability have not come nearly as easily but she has always, always found a way to move forward. No matter how bleak her circumstances (and they get pretty bleak!), Riley always finds a way to push through the pain and work toward her goals. Additionally, as the story progresses and Riley begins to develop some true and real relationships she finds that she is not truly alone but has support even in her darkest moments. At the end of the day, the overriding message found in The Melody of Light is multi-faceted: there is the message of friendship, true and abiding love, strength and, the power of music and its ability to heal. Don’t let the wimpy synopsis fool you, dear reader, The Melody of Light is so much more than the small paragraph lets on and is certainly worth the time.