“As always I try to be true to my characters who, for better or for worse, happen to be human.”
While looking through my older notes about Wind Scarred, I came across a nice review by reader Tom T. from 2005. Thank you very much, Tom.
Wind Scarred by Sarah Mankowski
A Review by Tom T. (Orlando, FL)
What stuck me about Sarah’s story of small town secrets and undying passions was how biblical it all seemed. The year may be 2004, but the characters and the events are straight out of the book of Genesis.
This is a story of two families living in a little Central Florida town called Blossom Lake. The Kavanaughs, prosperous citrus growers. The McCorveys, a simple God-fearing family who are prone to the worst kind of luck.
As the story opens we meet brothers Kendall and Neil Kavanaugh, as children back in 1979. They’re off from school that day and helping their father pick oranges. Everybody praises younger brother Kendall for being a hard worker. In a moment of resentment, reminiscent of Cain and Abel, Neil beats up the younger boy and breaks his nose.
Now we move forward to the summer of 2004. August. Miserably hot and muggy in Central Florida. Kendall is trapped in a loveless marriage to the daughter of the local congressmen. He manages the citrus groves for the family and is a devoted father to son Josh. Brother Neil has continued down the path of worthless piece of crap.
Meanwhile over on the other side of the railroad tracks on Heaton Rd, (everybody calls it Heathen Road) The McCorveys’ are preparing for J.T.’s upcoming wedding, even though his own mama isn’t happy about the engagement to a black schoolteacher. J.T.’s sister Jan is coming home for the wedding. Jan is the one McCorvey to break free from life on Heathen Road, becoming a successful attorney in Tallahassee.
Before long we learn that Jan and Kendall were involved in a heartbreaking romance as teenagers. Now that Jan is successful she wants revenge against the family that shooed her off like a mangy stray cat. But there’s a strong sexual tension between these two that no amount of time can suppress. They also share some of the funniest moments in the story, such as when Kendall, a Florida Gator’s fanatic, learns that Jan went to FSU. If you know about Florida football rivalries you’ll be rolling on the floor laughing.
But back to what I mean by Biblical. The “Am I my brother’s keeper,” theme is repeated often in this story. For example, J.T. has never forgiven Kendall for stealing his sister’s innocence. But as different as these two men may seem, they were both raised to put family above all else. After their town is devastated by Hurricane Charley, and nearly ripped apart by the scourge of crystal meth they realize that being my brother’s keeper means putting the welfare of the community before family.
Then there’s Jan in the role of prodigal daughter.
Kendall’s father warning him to prepare for the hurricane, that he correctly predicts will be far more destructive than forecasted.
Jan’s niece Amberleigh who after the death of someone she loves, can’t stand to hear people say that it musta been God’s will. At the funeral she declares, “If this was God’s will, I hate God.” Soon after, poor Amberleigh finds herself literally lost in the wilderness as the hurricane moves in, pleading to Got to save her.
This summer if you’re looking for a novel with lots of heart and humor along with a few naughtier moments to read at the beach or at the poolside or, God forbid, in your safe room during a hurricane, read Wind Scarred.
From Sarah: Reading the review after so many years was a surprise. I can assure readers that I did not include Biblical allusions, consciously. This story was written back in my agnostic days. I wrote the original drama with no higher purpose than to create an entertaining summer read. It is a story of contemporary life. Some readers may find language and some situations offensive. As always I try to be true to my characters who, for better or for worse, happen to be human.