The Final Note: A Novel by Kevin Alan Milne
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
In this brand-new novel from bestselling author Kevin Milne, readers will be inspired yet again by the themes of love, loss, and renewal. Ethan met and fell in love with Anna while studying music abroad in college. He married her, and fully expected to grow old with her. After all, they were young, life was good, and faith in each other came easily, as evidenced by the Love Notes Anna periodically left between the strings of his guitar.
On their wedding day, Ethan promised to love, honor, and cherish his wife...and to write a song for her. Fast forward to the present day. Despite his grand promises, reality has proven to be much harder than he anticipated. Instead of composing hit songs, he's working long hours to provide for his family, and still promising to finish Anna's song. His formerly hopeful spirit is almost too heavy to carry, weighed down as it is by regret.
His grandfather, a veteran of World War II, knows a thing or two about regret and bitterness, and has his own stories to tell. One in particular, has the potential to change Ethan's attitude and help him put the past to rest, if he can open his heart to the truth of it.
Can an old soldier's tales of war help Ethan relinquish his anger? Is it too late to finish the song he began for Anna on their wedding day? Will he be able to remember why he fell in love so many years ago? In this tale of loss and heartbreak, love and forgiveness, Ethan is about to discover that the final note has yet to be written.
My take: I loved this book! It was full of truisms and had a story that was realistic enough to break my heart. Bottom line - two good, young people fall in love in Austria. They play a little game where they meet up a couple times, Anna falls in love with Ethan, the musician, dreamer and idealist. Ethan falls in love with Anna, the artist, idealist, dreamer. They return to the states and he finds her in Moscow. That's Idaho. They hang out together with her dad, deeper lover develops and they marry.
Inevitably, life sets in. They work, save, lose, gain, pregnancies, miscarriages, deaths, life, jobs, and the other little and big things that make up life. In the process, Ethan loses sight of the simple idea that the lowest lying fruit is the sweetest. Anna wants more Ethan. Ethan feels conflicted with work and home. Anna wants more songs on Karl, the guitar. Ethan doesn't have time. Ethan is angry and guilty then the hardest tragedy of all strikes. Anna is dying. Ethan is angry.
The entire book had me spellbound. I hate real-life books because they mirror real life far too much. But the author introduced characters that represented some amazing truisms. Ethan's father, largely absent, gives Ethan the best advice. Ethan understands depression and sadness and no longer holds his father accountable for disappearing. Patiently, his father explains that sadness can be overcome. Anger, however, festers. Let it go.
Grandpa Bright is, by far, my favorite character. At long last, he breaks his silence about Karl, the old guitar he acquired during WWII. I won't even go there but it was the best part of the book. What Karl ultimately teaches is that there is a time to forgive - not only others but yourself. Forgiveness is not given for the deserving. Forgiveness is given to lighten the load.
Really, really well written book.