“We may make bad choices, but we don’t have to let them define us.”
Penance. A Love Story is the debut novel by author Sarah Buhl, and I have to say that it’s probably one of the most impressive and captivating romances I have ever read. Ms. Buhl has a way with words that is beyond beautiful and their construction is so poetic that I found myself on more than one occasion thinking, Wow. When a writer is passionate about a story, it’s written all over their work, and it’s obvious that Ms. Buhl has a true passion for the truly fantastic story she’s written in Penance.
Penance is the story of Wynn Hawthorne and Hannah Anderson, two young, very broken people who have both faced incredible pain in their lives inflicted by tragedy and abuse. Hannah is dealing with the death of her sister, which she blames on herself, while Wynn is dealing with the effects of years of mental and physical abuse at the hands of his own mother. In order to cope with their pain, both of them constructed emotional walls to keep the rest of the world out. But when they meet each other, they can’t deny their connection and, together, they embark on a journey of love, forgiveness and healing.
“There’s so much I want to say, but the words are hollow compared to the feelings I have when I’m near you.”
“We all have to face our demons, Hannah, if we don’t, they eat us up inside and steal every breath away.”
I’m not usually a highlighter of quotes when I read, unless I find something that moves me to the point where I feel compelled to commit it to memory. Typically, this will only happen once every few books, and I may only find one or two quotes to highlight. In Penance, however, I found myself wanting to highlight something on practically every other page. There were so many passages that resonated with me and made me think.
The characters in Penance are both relatable, believable, and well-developed. Besides Wynn and Hannah, I particularly liked Sid, Petra, Gabe, and Maggie, all of whom were great supporting characters and, at times, provided some comic relief in a novel about otherwise serious issues. I’ve never read a book like Penance before, and found the plot to be extremely well-developed. It flowed together well, and it was both emotional and heartbreaking at times (to the point where I found myself tearing up).
In short, Penance is a truly moving, beautifully written and well-constructed novel of forgiveness and love that I will not soon forget. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great new romance or just a well-written, moving story in general.