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Irene Watson

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Three Chords by Mike Mihalek: Book Review
By Irene Watson   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, June 05, 2008
Posted: Thursday, June 05, 2008

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Ethan is a successful musician, but despite the success, he goes through periods of self- examination. Missing in his life is his mother who left the family when he was only ten. Author Mike Mihalek uses music as a metaphor for the relationship of his characters. Julie, John, and their son, Ethan, are reflected in the novel's title "Three Chords," which is told with compelling dialogue, clear images, and realistic character portraits. The novel haunts readers as they relate to the characters' broken relationships and their longings to correct the past.

Three Chords

Mike Mihalek
RoseHeart Publishing (2008)
ISBN 9780980150421
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (4/08)

“Three Chords” is a character-driven novel dealing with the complex issues of child abuse, abandonment, and unresolved guilt. Sixteen years after being abandoned by his mother, frustrated, confused, and seeking closure, Ethan, a 26-year-old musician, set out to find her. An earlier attempt by his father prompted Ethan to visit a South Florida marina. He followed a clue arising from a phone call made by Julie four years earlier.  The call was traced to a public telephone and Ethan soon located his mother.

After leaving Ethan and his father John in Baltimore, Julie lived and worked at a homeless shelter where she met people and heard stories that helped put things in perspective for her. Julie described her experience this way: “Drugs, incest, abuse; entire families on the street…Life was cruel, unfair, but people survived, learned to cope. Still was surviving enough? What about hope?”

As a result of the impact of her personal inner turmoil, feeling of desperation, and self-inflicted abasement, Julie became a fugitive, running from her past, driven and haunted by her guilt. After Ethan found her and as she worked through the challenge of reconciliation with the family she left behind, she is caught in the middle of a scheme to vandalize the South Florida marina she now calls home.

Mike’s writing is absorbing. He writes with amazing insight into issues of dysfunctional relationships. He writes of the experience and pain of, regret, confusion and longing felt by Ethan, John, and Julie. He reveals compassion, forgiveness. Mihalek uses strong dialog and mental images to help his characters work through resolution to the conflict they have been endured. I identified with their pain and confusion as I became aware of an inner sense of conflict and unresolved issues in my own quest for identity. Mike shows unique insight into a subculture of illegal activity, greed, and the frenzy of real estate developers in South Florida.

Mike Mihalek writes with a creative imagination and strong story-telling skills. “Three Chords” is haunting, timely, and an important novel.


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