At 10 years of age Camilla Lynn Miller died. She had lived just seven days longer then her twin brother Sammy. Her death was hardly noticed because she was an invisible child. Her life was fractured by the death of her twin, and Camilla was no more. Her place was taken by a fragile little 10 year old girl, who now went by the name of Samantha.
Camilla’s family consisted of Mom and Dad, her twin brother Sammy, and her older brother Jason. He had been watching over Sammy when he fell from the tree and died. Because of their bond Camilla had absorbed Sammy and now there was only Samantha.
As Samantha begins to heal, and the family attempts to come together, Jason struggles with his guilt over Sammy’s death. How much can a family deal with when another child dies, this one self inflicted?
Sam’s mom Tara, shattered by the suicide, the unimaginable death of yet another child, retreated into a shell. Sam was placed in the background once again, and became a prisoner in her own home. Every thing revolved around her mother and as Sam grew she planned on escaping. As she moved away from home for college she found the first very real family she had ever known in her friend Tracy.
Restored Hope is a heartbreaking and tragic story of the damage inflicted through the total disconnect of a family. Will Samantha find what she is looking for? Will she learn to love and trust again?
As I read Brenda Youngerman novel I tried to gauge my feelings about Restored Hope; I realized that when Brenda Youngerman wrote her character Camilla, she really is invisible. As I went back I could only find a shadow of the little girl. Jason was very much front and center and his interaction with Sammy was certainly well written. Through it all there was just this sweet little girl that only looked on. She was just a vague figure in the background, curiously fading in and out of the story.
Camilla lived vicariously through Sammy and they communicated almost telepathically at times; with Sammy’s death she had actually felt him die. She could feel herself, falling with him, flying to the ground as he fell from the tree. The pain is palpable and you feel it, as Camilla deals with his death in the only way she can, by becoming someone else.
The whole story was surreal, somewhat like having a dream. I could have been watching from underwater, the scenes rippled and surged moving in unexpected directions, not at all clear.
While the story is a tragedy, but it is also a story of hope and dreams, and how love can heal even the deepest wounds.
Sam was so disconnected that while I could feel her pain and see where it came from, I found myself somewhat impatient that she struggled so much with trust. I would imagine that you would have to walk in her shoes in order to really understand.
I would recommend Restored Hope for book club reading as well as discussion groups. It touches on so many of the issues of today.