Cry No More by Linda Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It's hard to really say what I think about this story. It starts out so beautiful, showing Milla with her beautiful new baby, and then her life becomes a living hell. Milla is a character that evolves so much over the course of this book. She really is a person who has to rebuild herself from the ground up. You see this evolution occur painstakingly, and then you see her have to go through it again near the end of the book. It's one of those books that I got to the point where I wanted no distractions while I read. I turned the tv off, pulled the covers up over me and immersed myself to see how the conclusion would unfold. And when I finished this book, it was past my bedtime, but I was too keyed up to go to sleep right away. I had to start another lighter book to wind down.
This is definitely a five star book. The power of the story, the utterly believeable and intense nature of its protagonist, Milla, and her counterpart in Diaz really made this book a winner for me. There is some suspense, but really it's a book about a inner journey with an external crusade. Most of the violence is off-screen. I wonder if this was a deliberate move on Howard's part. Would this have been written differently if this was about a man's search for his lost child? I can't say I wanted more violence. I think it was great the way it was written. This is Milla's story, and she owns it. Yet, Diaz has a way of stealing the show without overshadowing Milla.
There was a part of the book where I was asking, why is she showing Milla doing housework, and going through her beauty regimen in such excruciating detail? Then it occurred to me. This woman lost everything. She has to have some sort of normalcy in a life utterly bereft of normalcy. She has dropped everything so that she could find her baby, and that was all she focused on. So she needed the few moments of normalcy in her life to stay sane.
Most people who have read this book talk about how it made them cry. We'll talk about the crying part later. First let's talk about how angry this book made me. I didn't get a headache, but I felt a smoldering rage inside at what Milla (and other women who went unavenged and unresolved in this novel) went through, and why. How could people be so devoid of humanity to do some things that people in this book did? Let's talk about who did it. If I had one wish that this book had shown, it was to see Milla confront the people who were the masterminds behind her son's kidnapping. The actual identities were such that my anger flourished as I read this book. Betrayal of that kind could not be easily, if ever forgiven. Yet we never see her confront anyone involved except the man who stole her baby from her arms, and a lady who took care of the baby for a short time. We never see Milla confront her betrayers. I wonder if Ms. Howard wanted to focus on the most important aspect for Milla, closure.
And then let's talk about Milla's family. I wanted to be angry at her ex-husband, David, but in the end, I felt sorry for him. He didn't have it in him to be with the 'Amazon' as he called Milla. He wasn't a warrior in the sense that Diaz was. He couldn't walk at her side, as Diaz does. But he does support her in the best way he can. Not so for her brother and sister. There is a scene where I wanted to slap the living tar out of Milla's sister, Julia. She comes to pick a fight with Milla when it's clear Milla doesn't have the time or inclination to be around either her brother or sister, when they toss out callous directives like, "Forget him. He's gone." As if that's so easy a thing to do. We don't see how this is resolved either. Again, I felt that Howard wanted to keep a sharp focus on what really mattered, Milla and her resolution of losing her baby.
Diaz is one of the things that kept me reading. I'm sorry if that sounds shallow of me. He was so fascinating to me. He was like the opposite of what many heroes are, and so appealing. He is a social misfit, but in the most intimidating of ways. People are scared to death of the man. He does some questionable things. But deep down, he has a lot of honor. I cannot even call him an antihero. He's a hero that willingly gets his hands dirty instead. If there was a man that was made for Milla, it's him. It was interesting to see Milla deal with her feelings for Diaz. She doesn't understand how she could connect with him on such a deep level, with him being so cold, so remote, so deadly. Well the old Milla certainly could not have. But she wasn't that person anymore. The new Milla needed a man like Diaz, in my opinion.
I didn't think that Diaz was blameless when he betrays Milla. He does something that he shouldn't have. It was wrong. He knew it. But he did it for the right reasons in his mind. He didn't know what Milla would do, and he did what was characteristic of him: dirty to keep things clean in the end. I was very glad that Milla was able to forgive him, because he really did need and want her forgiveness. He needed the connection with her to be human and to have a chance at a normal life.
I think that he showed his love for her unreservedly when he stood by her side when she had to do one of the hardest things any parent could have to do (there are worst things, not too many, though). I loved his caring, consideration, and patience with Milla towards the end of the book, how he watched out for in ways that few people could or would have, without ever being asked. I loved how he knew she was what he wanted and needed, and stayed the course. He was the soulmate for the new Milla. Ah, the man just fascinated me terribly.
I didn't cry until the part that was very hard for Milla occurred. I started crying when she went to see her ex-husband with the news. The interaction between them was brilliantly written because it showed that they would still be happily married and a cohesive whole if their baby hadn't been kidnapped. Yet at the same time, you see that they have gone in different directions and they will never be one whole again. David was the soulmate for the old Milla, who would never exist again. Yet they would always have a bond through their mutual son and their love for him. That was one of the best scenes in this book, in my opinion.
I was glad that we got a great epilogue that showed that Milla would have a good life in the future. I really needed to see that after so many years of her sacrificing, and the cost of what she gave up. It was great to see.
This is one of those books it took forever for me to get around to reading. Honestly, I avoid stories with children being hurt and kidnapped and loved ones suffering. Too real life for me. But Linda Howard managed to make me love this story so much, because Milla is the kind of woman that you cannot help but admire and root for. And Diaz is the kind of hero that is needed in this dark world. One of my all time favorite kinds of heroes, dark with hidden depths of light. Cry No More is without a doubt a wonderful book.
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