Fans of Charles Martin's THE DEAD DON'T DANCE happily will receive this moving sequel. Beginning where Martin's tale of husband and wife Dylan and Maggie Styles's loss of their newborn son and Maggie's subsequent slip into a coma left off, this follow-up opens with a brief explanation of the couple's horrendous experience. Dylan's voice speaks throughout the text with a raw edged candor, the kind born of grief. Though still suffering from the aftereffects of having held watch over his beloved Maggie during her four-month-plus coma, Dylan can't help but be awed by every move his wife now makes. Whether sleeping, eating or working in the garden, Dylan doesn't miss a beat if it concerns Maggie. His alertness to her movements is so beautifully depicted, readers instinctively understand how deep and abiding Dylan's commitment is to his wife and her full recovery.
As Maggie gains strength again, the yearning for another child becomes the topic around which their lives revolve. In both fear and wonder Dylan is greeted with the news that Maggie has conceived again. He can't help but trace his thoughts back to the results of her first pregnancy, the death of their baby and the coma. Dylan is preoccupied with the "what ifs" and Maggie takes note. Day by day, Dylan gives it his all to ensure Maggie's continued progress both physically and emotionally. Just when he starts to relax somewhat, the inconceivable occurs --- Maggie is assaulted and loses the baby. Another loss, coming so closely on the heels of the previous one, feels like a bombardment from every vantage point. After grief, tears and some physical mending, Maggie seems to rally at first. Then mounting despair pulls her down and away from Dylan.
Almost as destructive as the attack on Maggie, Dylan internalizes her silent rebuffs and attempts to continue loving her out of her depression. In every practical way possible, Dylan softens the blows of life for her. He doesn't tell Maggie that they've been rejected as potential adoptive parents. He doesn't explain how much it hurt to sell his truck in order to pay for the hefty loan to even apply for the adoption, nor does he tell her how deeply he struggled while she was "away" in her coma. Dylan's own despair forces him to ask difficult questions about life, faith and love. Meanwhile, Maggie is barely surviving on any front.
Amidst their personal woes, a few good friends supply slim assurances of hope with their small generosities and just enough encouragement to hang on for another day. As the climax of the story intensifies, both Dylan and Maggie must look within their hearts and decide whether or not they will allow the hurt, the anguish and the injustices of a fallen world to steal their future.
As readers contemplate the various life markers revealed by way of personal pain, rejection and bereavement, each segment of this story offers a singular lesson framed by faithful and enduring hope.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on November 13, 2011