Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
Dana Mansfield’s story, Sunset Park, is set in Memphis and unravels in April, when spring starts to creep in to end the cold of winter. It is a story about childhood friends who have gone through a lot of ups and downs, but manage to stay together. Laurie and Ben are an old couple who have depended on each other through a rough childhood to form a bond that is broken one day. Marcus and Jamie’s relationship stands the test of time and they have stayed loyal to Laurie and Ben. Teddy has become a priest, a vocation he had always wanted early on. Mei, on the other hand, is the one who has alienated herself from the group. As Laurie and Ben, scarred for life, attempt to pick up the pieces together, they will be confronted by a ghost in the past that will threaten the very core of their fragile lives.
The first thing that one may notice upon reading Sunset Park is Dana Mansfield’s writing style. Lyrical and poetic, it is obvious that she is a keen observer of places and people so that her description of the setting and of her story’s characters is vivid and real. She uses metaphors and similes in getting her message across in just the right dosage, so that reading her novel is simply enjoyable. The story mainly revolves around the relationship between Laurie and Ben, and their relationship to their childhood friends and to Sunset Park, the place where they all were born and raised. And it is obviously written by someone who writes straight from the heart. For this is a love story that will move anyone to feel love, anger, jealousy, hope and joy as the main protagonists try to save a relationship that is seemingly doomed to fail.