A Beautifully Written Journey of Growth and Faith, Review by Diane M. Denton
As I read deeper into Mary Clark’s new novel, “Miami Morning,” I began to have the sense of following a pilgrimage, a journey of growth and faith. Out of the “levels to her life” as a teacher, community activist and friend, Leila emerges smart, cultured, amiable, supportive, and sometimes self-depreciating, a forty-something woman who engages her senses as she perceives her surroundings like an artist and doesn’t shy away from challenges. She has a need for place and purpose, whether she is in Miami teaching Social Studies, helping to beautify and maintain a playground, and making sure a bright student losing his hearing doesn’t fall by the wayside; or on a year’s sabbatical in South Africa as part of a team setting up clinics in small villages and working to diminish the marginalization of the disabled.
Almost serenely aware “of being on the threshold of accomplishment”, Leila’s restlessness doesn’t make her impatient or impulsive, just active, her movement not always surefooted but, like many a Miami morning, contentedly and expectantly taking her towards an “opening horizon”. Her steps are more proactive than reactive. For example, after breaking up with a lover, she is determined not to cling to “the anguish of love”; instead she accepts the teaching post in South Africa to pursue fulfillment as a teacher and public-spirited, evolving individual.
Certainly, Leila’s quest is for more insight and meaning on the “long journey of life”, but she also seeks a way towards trust—of others, but mainly of herself. She values her interactions with students, colleagues, and friends, is constant and accessible in her relationships, while being easily solitary and essentially private. She gives the novel its heart and spirit, and is someone I immediately engaged with and cared about.