337 follows the life of Samuel Darte whose mother vanished when he was in his teens. It was his brother, Tom who found her wedding ring on the kitchen table along with the note. While their father pays the price of his mother’s disappearance, Sam learns that his long-estranged Gramma is living out her last days in a nursing home nearby. Keen to learn about what really happened that day and realising the importance of how little time there is, he visits her to finally get the truth. Soon it’ll be too late and the family secrets will be lost forever. Reduced to ashes. But in a story like this, nothing is as it seems.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
337 is a book of reflection. Following the protagonist Sam, we unravel a tale of childhood sadness and domestic abuse across two generations in the Darte family. A sullen, domineering grandfather wields control over his long-suffering wife. Clearly this affected their son. He ruled over his own family with an iron fist; anger and fear keeping sons Sam and Tom and his wife toeing the line. His mood cast a shadow over the family, leaving the home bathed in gloom. Only when away from their father could the children and their mother begin to remotely relax. Until one day, when a note on the kitchen table accompanying a wedding ring shatters their world. Their mother had left them.
Following months of searching, speculation and police investigations, the cold eye of suspicion fell upon the abusive father. With their grandmother living with them, an already-fractured family eventually disintegrated. Over the years Sam could not let the past lie, constantly looking for any slight clue as to the fate of his mother. It consumes him ever more when, two decades after an acrimonious parting of ways, Sam learns is Gramma lives in a care home just a mile or so from home, and is dying. A mix of fear of loosing any knowledge she may have of the disappearance of his mother, and a sense of familial obligation, he pays her a visit in her final das.
337 is a story of sadness and tragic circumstances. It’s a story of broken families and the ever-present spectre of past traumas. It’s a story of domestic abuse and the cloud it leaves even years later. I went into this book with a mix of trepidation and interest. I was worried how the darker elements of the story would be handled. I can safely say the care and delicateness applies was a pleasure. It may still be something to consider for any readers affected by the subject matter, but Lee certainly treated it with respect.
The version of the book I received is something a little special. It has two front covers. The main one is bright and vibrant, with a happy yellow light coming through the door. Flip the book over and the cover shows the same door, this time dimly lit in a dark, ominous light. These both reflect the book’s nature. There’s a beauty of a twist in the narrative, and depending on how you choose to take it, the story could be seen as one with a positive ending, or troubling. To do that, the author has done something very special and crafted a captivating story.