Room of Tears by Linda Merlino
Out of tragedies come heroes and miracles…
At 9:59 a.m. on September 11, 2001, Diane O’Connor’s life as a firefighter’s wife changes forever, shattering her faith. Four decades later, a note still hangs on her kitchen cabinet in Queens, the paper yellowed with age. Diane knows the scribbled sentences by heart; she'd left them the morning of 9/11 for her husband, Billy.
In the summer of 2041, Diane invites Friar Antonio Ortiz to her home. He is a man destined to become counsel to the first American pope—her son, Peter. Antonio asks no questions and arrives in secret, promising to wait nineteen years before passing Diane's journal to Peter. Only then will Billy’s story be told, along with answers to Peter’s questions about his father’s last days.
ISBN: 978-1-927792-08-7 (Kindle ebook); $3.99 US; July 23, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-927792-10-0 (Trade paperback); $13.99 US; July 23, 2013
“I’ve just put down Room of Tears, Linda Merlino’s second novel, and I am still sitting in that pool of shimmering light that a good book tosses over us, a translucent mantle that momentarily suspends the reader in time and space and life as we know it. A little something like being caught in a drop of suddenly solidified amber, I imagine. Merlino’s writing is that gorgeous, and her skill at telling a story that transport the reader from disbelief to a state of astounded belief is matched by few, perhaps not any. Room of Tears does all of these things to us, its readers. It requires courage and extraordinary skill to build a story on the backdrop of the nation’s tragedy of 9/11, but Merlino has built an original story that moves us through the still-fresh pain to a place of hope in the future. She makes us believe. She makes us believe in miracles.” —Zinta Aistars, founder and editor-in-chief of The Smoking Poet
“A true fictional tribute to the lives lost in 9/11. A beautiful and gut wrenching story...Miss Merlino weaves a flawless tale that will have you sobbing by the end of the book. With an incredible ending I didn’t see coming, this book will go down as being a classic.” —#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Rachel Van Dyken, author of The Bet
“For more than a decade writers have struggled to come to terms with the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and most have missed the mark—sentimental, tasteless, tone deaf. Linda Merlino’s Room of Tears takes on that horrific day in an entirely original way, combining Vatican politics, natural disasters, even the mysteries of Santeria to examine how the ripples from one brave firefighter’s demise grow into a tidal wave of world-changing consequences. Meditative, almost prayer-like, Room of Tears illuminates the search for meaning in tragedy, and comforts with the sense that, even in calamity, there is always a plan.” —Chris Belden, author of Shriver
“Room of Tears draws the reader in from the moment Father Antonio steps into Diane O'Connor's house to unearth a deep and intriguing secret about 9/11 that ultimately affects the future of the papacy. Merlino vividly portrays the struggle and pain of one family in the days leading up to that fateful day and its aftermath, including an unexpected and compelling twist that turns the book into an instant page-turner. Great character development is matched by layered storytelling that weaves through despair and longing, yet strikes just the right balance of humor and intensity to make this tear-jerker a captivating read.” —Lisa Quintela, former Entertainment Weekly writer
“With all eyes on Rome now, there's no better time to read "Room of Tears," Linda Merlino's novel about the first American pope. Besides the fascinating plot, you'll encounter another of Merlino's superwomen (read Hudson Catalina). I'm not talking about hairy Amazons; Linda's heroines are real women, feminine, witty, intelligent, compassionate and not easily manipulated by circumstances but ready to face adversity with courage, each a fighter you definitely want on your side. Just wait till you meet Diane O'Connor... You'll fall in love—I guarantee it.” —Jack Schmidt, two-time winner of International Hemingway Competition
“Room of Tears: A complex book with lots of heart, a story in which every reader can find something that is tangible and relatable. The exquisite language and gripping narrative gets under your skin and into your heart. It is a timeless love story, with spiritual undertones, that explores the human condition and how it is affected by loss, longing and undying faith. I loved every word." —Lauren Salkin, Priming Pamela –Shroud Magazine
“Room of Tears is multi-faceted - part suspense thriller, part ghost story, part futuristic novel - it is a powerful and moving story of love and loss, hope in the face of despair, and faith in a higher power that will overcome the unspeakable horrors of tragedy.” —Patricia F. D'Ascoli, Connecticut Muse