Sing, I

A violent crime threatens the stability of the middle-class wife and mother at the center of Ethel Rohan’s Sing, I, a thoughtful novel about self-discovery and new beginnings.

Ester Prynn’s mother chose her name in the hopes of making her unforgettable. Ester lives with her husband, Simon, and their two teenage boys in coastal Northern California. Though amicable, the marriage has lost whatever spark it once had, and their younger son is so obsessed with video games he barely comes out of his room. On top of that, Ester’s father has advanced dementia, and she is estranged from her brothers, who remained in Montana after their mother’s death.

When a masked gunman robs the convenience store where Ester works, assaulting both her and her coworker, Crystal, Ester is badly shaken. She quits the store and gets another job as a hostess in an upscale hotel restaurant. Friends encourage her to pursue forgotten interests like singing, but she is haunted by her frustration that the gunman is still free and continuing to commit acts of violence. She’s also troubled by her unexpected attraction to Allie, a manager at the restaurant. Though Ester has long fantasized about an escape, are these feelings worth imploding her life over?

The strength of Sing, I is its focus on the ordinary and the relatable. Ester is a middle-class woman with close friends, but also beholden to her family and trapped in a low wage job. The robbery jumpstarts her out of her stupor and into the role of an active participant in her life. Other characters also struggle with the hardships of starting over, addiction and life’s disappointments.

Though it treads a predictable path, Sing, I nonetheless offers a gentle reminder of the hard-earned growth that can emerge from disruption and change.


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