By: Jennifer Irwin

Only by acceptance of the past can you alter it.”  (T.S. Eliot)

Undoubtedly, virtually every person on the planet regrets at least one thing that has occurred in their past.  Something which has mortified them and potentially caused shame and embarrassment.  However, in most instances the intensity of these issues are such that a person can leave it behind them and move forward with their life.  Be that as it may, what if the past was so traumatic and tragic that it totally defines a person’s existence?  What if they are unable to overcome the obstacles of the past…even if it means a lifetime of pain and sorrow.  Entirely debilitated and seeking comfort in an unhealthy and often deadly manner.  If such notions have garnered your attention and interest, then A Dress the Color of the Sky by author Jennifer Irwin will be a top reading selection!

Essentially, the book follows the life and struggles of Prudence (Prue) Aldrich.  Married to a sullen and abusive husband by the name of Nick, Prue copes and seeks escape in the form of sexual encounters with strangers.  Recognizing the inherent danger of such a sexual addiction, Prue enters a rehab center by the name of Serenity Hills.  It is here that she seeks to do battle with her demons and hopefully save her marriage and family at the same time.  As the story proceeds, we are taken back through Prue’s past in a series of flashbacks.  We are thus able to gain some perspective about her and why she has found herself at this lowly point.  The reader is able to meet her mother, father, brother and a whole host of friends and abusers.  Her guilt, minimal sense of self-worth and rampant self-loathing all begin to make sense.  Although she attempts to “repair” herself by attending rehab, is Prue simply too far gone to ever truly recover from her tragic and chaotic past?  Or will she manage to find a new strength of character and love for herself which she never really knew existed?

I found the plot of this novel to be absolutely captivating and engaging.  As a reader you will simply melt right into this book.  There are a variety of minor themes which run throughout the story, but the struggle to recover from a traumatic past is the most prevalent motif for this particular reader.  It is all about the strength of the human spirit against what seem to be impossible odds.  Although I can personally identify and connect with Prue’s childhood and the trauma she experienced, such a personal connection is not needed to love this book.  You just have to be human.  The writing flows beautifully and alternates between the past and present in an entirely seamless fashion.  To say I consider this novel to be compelling and enthralling would be a drastic understatement.  In truth, I found it to be magical and it moved me deeply.

For those readers who like to see the protagonist develop in great depth throughout the course of a story, once again A Dress the Color of the Sky will not disappoint.  While there are certainly a variety of characters in the story, they all essentially play a supporting role to Prue.  Her various relationships with them act to uncover and divulge important details about Prue and the nature and depth of her experiences…both negative and uplifting.  Also, the dialogue between them flows smoothly and seems entirely genuine and believable.  The interactions between Prue and the various supporting characters will ignite a whole range of emotions within the reader.  Without a doubt I felt anger, sorrow, joy, contempt and disgust at various points throughout the tale.  Character development at its best!

This book is a must read for a wide variety of reasons.  However, the fact that it is so beautifully written stands out as paramount.  I would recommend it to all adult readers and give it my highest rating.

5 out of 5 Inspirational Stars for this one!  *****