Sassafras by Trish Heald is a stunning debut. I laughed and cried as Heald expertly told a story about healing and family (whether tied by blood or friendship).
When Champ’s wife, Pat, dies, both he and his family lose their peacekeeper and grief, as it so often does, slips its fingers into the cracks in their relationships and pulls them wide open. We follow Champs as he struggles both stubbornly and defiantly with change. At times, Heald leads us to feel frustrated with him before our hearts break once more for all Champs has lost.
Alongside Champs, Heald crafts incredible character arcs for his children, grandchildren and even Millie, the dog. Sassafras, much like its namesake, widens as the novel develops and unravels the trials and tribulations of more than just Champs. Heald moves through these individual stories adeptly to maintain momentum and weave them all together.
Thus, Sassasfras is an undeniably heartwarming story about healing after loss, tragedy and shock; and when I learnt Heald has a background in psychology I couldn’t help but imagine her at her writing desk like Josanne sitting on the porch, cross-stitching grief into something beautiful.