Song for Ria - Book Review

Song for Ria

Author: Michelle Shine
Genre: Fiction - Realistic
Publisher: RedDoor Press
Date Published: June 13, 2022
ISBN-10: 1913062996
ISBN-13: 9781913062996

GoodReads Rating:

Book Review of :  Song for Ria


Song for Ria by Michelle Shine is a tragic, heartfelt story about the loss of a daughter from an apparent overdose of drugs. Shine treats the reader to a rare combination of candor and fragility through the eyes of Ria's bereaved mother, Alison. A stunning read that reflects the authentic voice of a mother at the unexpected moment the lives of loved ones are shattered and altered forever by the demise of a family member. Shine describes moments of strength in the midst of indescribable pain, resilience in the midst of rage, and hope while mired in despair. I personally lost two close friends to a drug overdose, and Shine’s narrative made me reflect on the many feelings I experienced then and still do thinking about those suicides. I felt sorrow, anger, disbelief, and that constant nagging question of why they would have done it. But, one of the strongest feelings I had was anger.

Shine weaves into her story how the tragedy affected the marriage of Ria's parents – how the death of a seemingly successful daughter tore at their very existence. In real life, it does – one parent often expresses the pain more openly and finds fault with their partner for seemingly not displaying the same depth of despair. To make the scenes with the Shaman as authentic as possible, Shine went to Arizona, visited a Hopi reservation, and met with a real Shaman.

Alison's quest to discover the life of her daughter's last few days and the big "why did she do it" eats at her. Her search for answers disheartens her even more. She begins to realize that her daughter did not recognize the loving feelings she felt toward her. Alison is told that her daughter thought she was viewed as small - insignificant by her famous mother.  Her discussions with her abusive daughter's boyfriend, Joshua, brings up even more things that make her feel partially responsible for Ria's death.

On top of Allison's quest for the truth and the why of what happened, another story is woven into the novel's fabric. Ria was on her way to being a celebrity, and the story of that life unfolds.

Song for Ria is the perfect novel for parents struggling with children who have succumbed to the curse of addiction, alcoholism, mental health issues, etc., and seeking to know the signs to look out for when it comes to drug use and abuse as well as mental problems.

Shine's' book provides an invaluable understanding of the unique vulnerability and resilience within the processes of growing from the loss of a child to the task of moving on in life. Anyone who has lost a child, no matter the cause, can commiserate with Shine's narrative.

About Michelle Shine


Michelle Shine lives in London, England. Her debut novel Mesmerised, about the Impressionists in 1863 is narrated by their friend, fellow artist, doctor and homeopath, Paul Gachet and was first published in 2013 by Indigo Dreams. Song for Ria, her latest novel, was published this year by Red Door Press. The Subtle Art of Healing, was long listed for the Cinnamon Press novella award in 2007. She has written articles for online journals and her short stories have appeared in Liars League, Grey Sparrow, Ephiphany and several collections. She has an MA in Creative Writing from BIrkbeck.

Visit for more information on Michelle Shine


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