Explore Grief and Healing on a Mother’s Journey to Find

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What’s it About?

Explore grief and healing on a mother’s journey to find her son

What an emotional whirlwind! Anyone who has been through loss, grief, finding your way through the tough times and leaning on family and friends, will fully embrace Wonders in the Waves by Jennifer Collins and find healing in the process. Continuing the story of Larissa Whitcomb from Collins’ first novel, Comfort in the Wings, the author has, again, written a truly inspiring novel. While I would now like to go back and read the first book, this one definitely stands on its own. 

Larissa is a character who has a lot to bear in her life. What came to mind when reading about her terrible losses was the quote, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” I remember hearing that said once to a daughter who had just lost her mother, and the daughter said, “So my mother would still be here if I wasn’t so strong?” How much could Larissa really handle?

Story of Loss Meets A Mystery Subplot

Loss is a major theme in Wonders in the Waves. At the start of the novel, Larissa is approaching the year anniversary of the loss of her daughter, Emma. She is in the middle of searching for the son she had to give up for adoption when she was just a teenager. She is also trying to help her surviving son, Eric, with his own feelings of grief. Larissa and Eric get a much-needed change of scenery as they embark on an extended trip to a beach community on Hutchinson Island, FL where they get so much more than just surf and sand.

The pursuit of finding the son Larissa had given up for adoption becomes a mystery/thriller within the larger story. Advances in DNA technology and good old detective work create a sense of excitement as Larissa tracks down lead after lead. I couldn’t wait to see how this would all turn out (and if you’re curious, you’ll have to read to find out!) I have known people on the other side of this kind of search (the adoptive adult child looking for their birth mother/family) and I could easily picture this story as a movie (not unlike the movie, Philomena).

I loved that each chapter of the book begins with a beautiful and meaningful quote that frames the chapter:

There are losses that rearrange the world. Deaths that change the way you see everything, grief that tears everything down. Pain that transports you to an entirely different universe, even while everyone else thinks nothing has really changed. –Megan Devine

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take. The relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make. –Lewis Carroll

Compelling Story that Entertains and Inspires Readers

There is a lot to love about this book and, while it is a novel, it can also serve to provide some great inspiration and help in getting through the toughest parts of life and coming out whole. I found the sections that described Larissa’s grief and trying to come to terms with her loss very compelling. Jennifer Collins shows the importance of getting help and having the support of those close to you. It’s not an easy road to travel and certainly harder to travel alone.

Jennifer Collins wrote beautiful descriptions both of nature and emotions. I found myself fully engaged during the therapy sessions Larissa has with her therapist. I particularly enjoyed when the author describes the part that the water, the beach and nature play in Larissa’s healing. Another great quote that merges these two together is: “You can’t force raging water to be calm. You have to leave it alone and let it return to its natural flow. Emotions are the same way.” Wonder in the Waves leaves you with a lot to think about and it’s an emotional ride worth taking!


About the author:

Jennifer Collins is a retired physical therapist and college professor who has recently taken the path to create fiction from experience.

Comfort in the Wings, a debut novel, emerged from enduring multiple, sudden deaths, in her immediate family including two of her children, and her only sibling. Overcome with loss, she found comfort in signs that reminded her of her children, and unexpected hope from speaking with psychics. She found herself in awe at the outpouring of stories from other parents who had lost children. Wonders in the Waves, a sequel that also stands on its own, continues her lifelong dream to make her experiences and those shared openly from others a source of solace to readers. These inspiring stories bring a seldom heard voice to fiction.

Collins enjoys daily walks and writes from her homes in New York and Florida. Her appreciation for the healing qualities of being near the water inspired her to feature the Finger Lakes region of New York and Hutchinson Island, Florida, in her novels. Her characters find peaceful retreats in these unique, picturesque environments.

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