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The Laws of Harmony

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  518 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
Sunny Cooper has been running since she was eighteen—from the New Mexican commune where she grew up . . . and from the haunting memory of the freak accident that took the life of her younger sister. Now, at thirty-two, Sunny voices radio spots in Albuquerque while struggling to hold on to a floundering relationship. But when a second tragic accident—and the devastating tru ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Harper Perennial (first published 2009)
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Mar 24, 2010 Heidi rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
As a fan of Judith R Hendricks, I immediately loved The Laws of Harmony. However, as it ended, I felt deflated, sad that I couldn't continue on the character's journey... and that made think about the story itself and I discovered that there were a lot of unfinished aspects to this book. Is it just me, or isn't that out of character of the author?

The Laws of Harmony is ultimately a story about reconciliation between a woman and her avant-garde mother. But there are major underlying themes thro
Susan O'Bryant
Feb 24, 2011 Susan O'Bryant rated it it was amazing
Shelves: female-fiction
It's been a while since I read a book where I truly liked and cared about the characters. So many seem like flat, watery, black and white photographs. But this terrific author was able to create Sunny, who is anything but a plain picture. Her problems are real, her life is believable, and her choices are understandable.

While I was propelled to read because of the story, I was enchanted to read because of the writing. Judith Ryan Hendricks is a wonder, knowing just when to throw in a descriptive
Mar 14, 2009 Robin marked it as to-read
I have loved this author's books and am thrilled to get an advance reading copy of this. The book is due out in January. If you haven't read this author, try BREAD ALONE, a terrific relationship story set in a Seattle bakery.
Dec 07, 2014 Marleen rated it really liked it
Judi Hendricks is an author I discovered only recently. I must say I do love her writing style and the depth she brings to her characters. I enjoyed the story of Sunny (birth name “Soleil”) who was born on a New Mexico commune and lived there with her parents and brother and little sister. Sunny never took to commune life and she decides to go college in Alburquerque, cutting most of her ties with her family for long periods of time.
Sunny’s story is rather captivating especially her flash blacks
Aug 03, 2009 Ariela rated it liked it
Sunny Cooper is a middle aged woman who does voice-over work and lives with her boyfriend, Michael, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her relationship with Michael has been strained since she refused to marry him, but though they’re unhappy at least they have each other. Then Michael is killed in a mysterious auto accident and strangers start showing up at Sunny’s door, claiming that Michael was involved in a business scheme that cheated them out of money. Reeling with grief and unsure how to respond ...more
Julie Mendel
Sep 27, 2011 Julie Mendel rated it really liked it
A tale of a free spirited upbringing in a commune which Sunny leaves as soon as she is able. She believes she is happy and that her life is good and then things begin to spin out of control, her finance is killed in an automobile accident, after burying his charred remains Sunny discovers he had been having an affair, with her best friend, that he was a gambler who was deeply in debt and that he cheated investors out of thousands of dollars by laundering money through his start-up companies. Sun ...more
Pamela Pickering
Nov 13, 2010 Pamela Pickering rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Ann, Susan
Recommended to Pamela by: Yolanda
For the most part I really enjoyed this book. Being from NM, I really enjoyed the NM references, especially being away from home is was like a nice little visit back to the state for me. Quite frankly, I wouldn't mind living on the NWestern island Sunny ends up on either. Hendricks' writing style is easy to read and follow. The book was rating a possible 4 stars for me but after a while I got a little weary of her reminiscing, although I still see where it was valuable to understand Sunny's char ...more
Apr 30, 2009 Bonnie rated it really liked it
This is the story of Sunny Cooper who grew up in New Mexico on a commune. Her life was affected in many ways as she grew up in this environment both in positive and negative ways. A tragic event made a great impact on her life and as a reader you learn what this event is as Sunny confronts and faces this as an adult. As an adult, in her 30's, she is living in Albuquerque, and finds herself in a relationship with Michael and a best friend Betsy who both betray her in many different ways. Sunny ma ...more
Apr 23, 2009 Trina rated it really liked it
A patient at my work recommended this book to me. She had lots of good things to say- Said she writes like Barbara Kingsolver and you know I luv me some Barbara so I'm givin it a go.

This was a nice cozy read. She writes in a way that is easy and... comfortable. So easy to just get absorbed in a well told story; although I really didn't see a Kingsolver resemblance. Maybe because the main character is a strong independent woman??

The format was fresh- It had a strong mystery theme but somehow that
Molly Ringle
Jan 20, 2013 Molly Ringle rated it liked it
As always, Judi Hendricks excels at evoking setting and mood with sensory details--food, plants, landscape, music, humble dwellings. Both sun-baked New Mexico and the moss-drenched Puget Sound island seemed totally real and were thus lovely to read about. Though I zipped along through the book with interest to see what happened with many of the various twists and turns, I felt ultimately a bit frustrated by the ending. I guess I'm more of a romance-novel fan after all, and had higher hopes for s ...more
Tiffany Hawk
Sep 14, 2012 Tiffany Hawk rated it it was amazing
This is the kind of book that makes me hate my Nook. After I finished the e-book, I thought it was so good that I had to buy the paper copy, a habit I can’t afford to keep up! Hendricks is my favorite kind of writer – she effortlessly combines the humorous and the, well I wouldn’t use the word dark, but the serious anyway. I truly loved following Sunny, the protagonist, as she pieced her life back together with no small amount of sass. I particularly liked that the characters’ growth was relativ ...more
May 14, 2009 Yolanda rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Pamela,Sharon, and anyone who loves food and the WEST
Shelves: read-in-2009
I really enjoyed this book .It was the first one I have read by this author and I love the way she incorporates food into the story seamlessly. I also feel that she creates her characters in such a way that you really like them even with all their flaws.
I also feel that she has a gift for crafting setting. the first part of the book takes place in the Southwest and the other part in the Northwest and in her desriptions of both places she captures them so well.
I want to try to make her prize winn
Nov 06, 2009 MaryAnn rated it it was amazing
When I got to the last page I said to myself "This a great book." It is a truly human story and it gave me some major insights into my own life. I can't wait to go back through it and underline some key quotes and lines. I love a book that reminds me that life is good and that I am good too even if both of us have our flaws, ups and downs and unresolved issues.
Feb 15, 2011 Janyne rated it liked it
I have some mixed feelings about the book so I settled on three stars. I found it to be more literary than the first two books that I read by the author but I also found the first section of the book to be a little bit of a turn off. It was jolting. It probably made the other two sections more powerful in many ways but as a reader, I didn't care for it.

This is the third book by Judith Ryan Hendricks that I've read. I found this book to be different from Bread Alone and The Baker's Apprentice in
Sep 09, 2009 Bee rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
Judith Hendricks has the ability to make a region or a way of life feel so three-dimensional and appealing -- when I read 'Bread Alone', I wanted to move to Seattle and become a baker. Granted, it doesn't take much for me to want this, but still. While 'The Laws of Harmony' wasn't quite as good as 'Bread Alone' to me, and while it seemed to take me a long time to truly get into the story, I very much enjoyed it. Sunny was a relatable character and I loved the vivid descriptions of the New Mexico ...more
Mar 30, 2012 Florinda rated it liked it
Sunny Cooper grew up on a commune in northern New Mexico, and her childhood memories aren't exactly happy ones. Her parents split up, her little sister died in a tragic accident, and there was very little she could call her own. Those experiences have shaped her into a self-protective woman who doesn't attach herself to much, materially or emotionally. When her boyfriend disappears and she begins to learn just how much she didn't know about him, she realizes it might be time to give herself a fr ...more
Nov 21, 2009 Cindy rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 10, 2009 Ti rated it liked it
Sunny is a likable character. Albeit a bit scattered and not quite sure where her future will take her, but she's easy to relate to and she is far from perfect. The story is told in three parts. The first part gives you the current, here and now info and includes some flashbacks to Sunny's childhood growing up in a commune in New Mexico. Part two focuses on Sunny's new life in the small town of Harmony, the friends she has made, her new job and the entire "rebuilding" process that must take plac ...more
Carla Jean
Jun 16, 2009 Carla Jean rated it liked it
Shelves: booksiown
I thoroughly enjoyed settling into the life of Sunny Cooper, unsettling though the events of her life are. Judith Ryan Hendricks creates fascinating characters with a variety of backgrounds, and learning about Sunny's past as the events of her present are unveiled made for quick, engrossing reading.

So why only three stars? As lovely as Hendricks' writing is, the plot fell apart several times. The first part of the book deals with Sunny's fiancee's mysterious business dealings that are only reve
April Gustafson
Jul 07, 2009 April Gustafson rated it really liked it
I met the author of this book along with a couple of other female authors at an event at the Denver Public Library a couple of years ago (several years ago?). I bought one of her books there and ended up buying the other two shortly thereafter. Then this one around Christmastime. Her novels are easy to read, thoughtful, poetic, and best of all full of good food. I love when novels have food in them. Makes me think I need to add food to MY novel, but you know the whole "fat girl gets skinny" them ...more
Simple read set in the Pacific Northwest (and Southwest!) While I loved the natural settings, the writing did not completely capture my imagination. I enjoyed the main character's attitude and verocity for life. She wasn't willing to give up, and continued to look ahead - regardless of the perceived setbacks that followed her. Fun characters in the background as well.
Apr 21, 2010 Relyn rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: hmmmmm.....
Recommended to Relyn by: I already love the author
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 21, 2012 Marya added it
I love her books and the renewal that women find in them. This book also incorporates aspects of life that I am familiar with, New Mexico, The San Juan islands and growing up in a non-traditional environment. [return][return]This books tells the tale of betrayal, and the path that is taken to recover from it. Her heroine is tested and we see how she survives, and how she moves on from her past. Hendricks teaches us lessons on life, on to to love again, on how to hate, on how to admit who we are. ...more
Mar 19, 2009 Vivian rated it really liked it
Another fabulous read from Ms. Hendricks - with the potential for a sequel. Sunny Cooper grew up in a commune in New Mexico. Her younger sister dies in a freak accident, her father abandons the family, and she has an uneasy relationship with her mother. At eighteen, she leaves her past behind her and settles in Albuquerque, where she makes a living doing odd jobs and voice-overs. She lives with a man who is not what he seems, and when he is killed in accident, Sunny flees once again. She makes h ...more
Feb 22, 2016 Cindy rated it liked it
Sunny seems to just float along with this thing called life. Oh, she has plenty of thoughts about everything that happens to her and around her...just enough to allow me to be her for the time it took me to read this book. The story left me wishing for a sequel.
Jun 01, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it
Great summer read. The plot is just complicated enough to keep you interested, but it's not too deep or thought provoking. At this point I'm just grateful when I can find a good, clean, well written book, so I'm happy!
Sep 07, 2015 Ruth rated it liked it
Abrupt ending. I though in the beginning that it was going to be a murder mystery, which surprised me given the other books I'd read by this author. Enjoyable, slightly unbelievable fluff. Good read.
Jun 29, 2014 Anita rated it really liked it
This book has mystery, romance, exploration of the mother-daughter relationship, self-discovery and culinary themes. Set in the southwest and northwest. I enjoyed it as light reading during a recent vacation.
Apr 09, 2011 Elicia rated it it was amazing
I was drawn to this book because of the location. I grew up in New Mexico and currently live in Albuquerque.I could relate to the main character in her journey for wanting more in life. Sunny goes through a journey in New Mexico, family conflicts, interactions with dishonest people and the realization that she can make it on her own despite the difficult path. Her bravery and courage to leave it all behind was exciting to read. I like the ending, allowing the reader to speculate what happens in ...more
Feb 15, 2011 Amy rated it it was ok
-____- I did not like this book. It was well written and a nice story, but I was bored. I was bored at the beginning and bored throughout.

Maybe I was supposed to learn something about reinvention after reading this. Or about second chances. Or about family and their importance...I don't know. The plot was as slow as the towns I read about.

I liked the character, but it didn't make reading the book worth it. Too many questions were left unanswered: What happened to Michael? And JT? Did the mothe
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Judith Ryan Hendricks was born in San Jose, California, when Silicon Valley was the Santa Clara Valley, better known for orchards than for computer chips.
Armed with a degree in journalism, she worked as a journalist, copywriter, computer instructor, travel agent, waitress and baker before turning to fiction writing. Her experiences at the McGraw Street Bakery in Seattle led to her first novel, Br
More about Judi Hendricks...

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