The Grace of Crows
by Tracy Shawn
Cherokee McGhee

"The grace of crows is the kind of grace that's straightforward and honest."

Forty-seven-year-old Saylor Crawmore suffers from anxiety disorder. Surrounded by dysfunctional environs her whole life, Saylor struggles on her own to overcome her mental illness since therapy and meds cause more problems than help. Saylor learns that Billy Underwood, a friend from her teen years and the only person who understood her painful childhood, is now homeless. Saylor searches for her dear friend in the hope of helping him. Once Saylor locates him, Billy brings up horrific memories that Saylor would rather forget about—ones that are key to understanding her mental illness. Refusing Saylor's offer to get help by going home with her, Billy leaves her with stunning directives to get her life in order. Yet the next time she visits Billy, he is nowhere to be found.

Tracy Shawn pens a gripping debut that appears more fact than fiction. Zeroing in on one woman's journey struggle to triumph over her anxiety disorder, Shawn goes to great length to capture an in depth understanding of this type of mental illness through mood settings, art, and character development. Centered in a fictitious area near the ocean in California, Shawn utilizes the nuances of weather changes (particularly associated with water) to highlight both Saylor's mindset and her dysfunctional surroundings. Yet amid Saylor's dysfunctional environ that is replete with an equally dysfunctional cast, Shawn balances her narrative by punctuating dismal scenes with hopeful moments. Great examples of these moments can be found through specific and unlikely characters such as Billy and a biker named Lenny, as well as through the healing work of art (i.e., Saylor's artistic talents and the works of Van Gogh). Shawn goes one step further by incorporating the above-mentioned literary tools within a flurry of unanticipated scenes. Bottom line: The Grace of Crows is nothing less than a striking and inimitable literary work.

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