When Light Breaks - By Patti Callahan Henry


I had always hoped that I would bring something of worth to the writing, but I soon discovered that it was the other way around—writing has enriched my world in many ways, and one of the most beautiful of these ways is the heart-expanding friendships I’ve discovered along this journey of publication. This story is more complete because of many friends, family members and colleagues, and I am indebted to every single one of them.

First I must express my gratitude to those integral in the formation of this novel. Kimberly Whalen is beyond an agent. She is a genius in storytelling and thematic structure; this novel is richer, deeper and cleaner because of her understanding of the story’s heart. Ellen Edwards is an editor of such immense patience, acuity and thoughtful, cohesive editing that I express my esteem with a humble heart. I want to thank Laura Zidar of the PGA TOUR for her expertise and kindness while answering my numerous questions about the golf tour; if I have made any mistakes describing the tour, they are my fault alone. I am, as always, grateful to Sandee O for being willing to share her expert knowledge about cameras and photography.

I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to those who have entered my life through this wonderful world of writing, and therefore enriched my writing with their friendship and insight. To Mary Alice Monroe, lyrical, gentle in spirit and wisdom—I am honored to call you friend; to Marjory Heath Wentworth, South Carolina Poet Laureate, who can light a room with her very presence; to Dorothea Benton Frank, a wild Irish soul whose very words can lift a spirit to greater heights; to Annabelle Robertson, whose wit and genuine warmth has brought raucous laughter to many a dreary day; to Jackie K. Cooper whose generosity and authentic heart know no bounds; to Gracie Bergeron at the Margaret Mitchell House, I am grateful for your joy in life, even in the harder times—you are an example of a courageous woman; to Mary Kay Andrews, who makes me laugh—and what is better than that?; to Haywood Smith who always, above all things, has an awe-inspiring faith. All of you encourage and inspire me.

To those at Penguin Group (USA) and New American Library who support my work, I am continually thankful. To Kara Welsh, Leslie Gelbman, Claire Zion, public relations extraordinaire, Carolyn Birbiglia, and members of the sales, art, and marketing departments who make sure these stories reach readers—although words are not enough, I am extremely thankful.

My family is the solid ground upon which everything else works and I love you with everything I have: Pat, Meagan, Thomas and Rusk, I couldn’t do any of this without you. To Anna Henry—your courage has been an inspiration to keep going when the going gets tough.

And, of course, this novel would not exist without the support of the readers, librarians and booksellers who read and believe in my work. I will never know all your names, but please know I am infinitely grateful for your support. To all those who came to signings and readings, to those who threw parties and events, to those who reviewed and wrote articles about the previous books—thank you.

My longtime friends are generous, kind, warm, funny and supportive. What more could a girl want? I wish I could thank every single one of you by name—you keep me sane and I love all of you.

May stillness be upon your thoughts and

silence upon your tongue!

For I tell you a tale that was told at the


. . . . the one story worth the telling. . . .


All the words that I utter

And all the words that I write

Must spread out their wings untiring

And never rest in their flight.



I was surrounded by water just as I was surrounded by mem ories. I was born here in the South Carolina Lowcountry, raised first by both my parents, then by just my daddy. My hometown, Palmetto Pointe, was a place encircled by river, estuary, marsh, and ocean all at once; bodies of water cushioning us like the earth’s pillow.

One silver dawn in early March, I stood on the dock overlooking the river shrouded in early-morning mist; the hummocks and spartina blended together in the gray-silver dawn. The oyster shell mounds glowed in the rising sun like pearlized and ragged pieces of earth outlining the river. I’d come earlier than usual for my morning run. The sound of my older sister’s