Burying Leo Book Review3 min read

“The music started up and Ingrid sang. Timid at first she gathered strength as she easily fell into a rhythm with the band. Her voice joining the sound of their instruments made her think of a group of birds flying together – wings flapping in unison, windblown feathers reflecting the sunshine, their individual cries becoming one in a timeless merging of harmonious beauty and grace as their flock streamed toward a common destination with an as yet unknown destiny. It was poetry at its best.”

Author: Helga Gruendler-Schierloh                      Published: 2017                            Pages: 341

Burying Leo is a novel whose protagonist, Ingrid, is married to Joe and lives out her everyday life in Detroit. She has always loved to sing, but traumatised from a past experience, she now finds the act of singing a painful and difficult thing to do. After years of hoping to start a family with Joe, she comes to the realisation that it may not happen, so turns to singing to fill the void in her life. As she begins to find her feet again, old memories are brought up, as well as familiar faces, and so Ingrid must make some tough decisions. She thought Joe was the man of her dreams when she married him, but now she doesn’t think he has the same commitment to the relationship she does. And will her re-found love of singing jeopardise their relationship, or be the thing to set her free?

Initially, if you would ask me to describe this novel in one word, I would have said confusing. The blurb for a start is nothing like the actual novel and I think that really does it some harm because I am much more intrigued by the actual storyline than by the information I was given by the author. So it’s definitely been undersold, which could really hold it back.

I liked the character of Joe (not that he was very likeable) but he was interesting for the narrative as I could really feel Ingrid’s frustration towards him. A typical workaholic, he was more interested in what Ingrid could do for his company than how they could start a family together. I liked to see her development throughout the novel with regards to Joe, and how, as time went on, she learnt that she didn’t need to be stuck in a marriage which wasn’t doing anything for her.

I liked Ingrid and I think she develops nicely as a character, plus it was interesting to see flashbacks from her life in order to gain perspective on how she ended in her life as we, the reader, know it. I do think the flashbacks could have been made a little clearer as sometimes it took me a minute to realise I had jumped years into the past, but they were definitely a pivotal part of the plot. I also really liked Mike (I think anyone who’s read it would agree) and I like how he helps Ingrid gain courage and confidence.

Gruendler-Schierloh deals with some tough issues in Burying Leo but I think she handles them with sensitivity and decorum. I would have liked to see the plot deepen a little further, but apart from that, Burying Leo was an enjoyable read about a woman who uses music to find empowerment and overcome the obstacles in her life.

Thank you to the author, Helga Gruendler-Schierloh, for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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