What if your ten-year-old knew more about your past than anyone in the world-even you?
“A beautiful and compelling novel about a mother’s yearning—for her origins, for unconditional love, for the sacred, and for the secret behind her son’s mysterious connections to the past.”
Co-Author, Cinematherapy for the Soul: The Girl’s Guide to Finding Inspiration One Movie at a Time
“I was totally taken by the modern woman’s struggle with identity and spirituality.”
“A rich, atmospheric story about an adopted woman’s journey towards motherhood and spiritual awakening.”
“The opening scene is a gritty one of a woman giving birth on the Brooklyn Bridge. Which of course means I can’t stop reading even if I wanted to.”
Author, Land of Love and Drowning
Song of the Shaman
Sheri Lambert is the classic New York workaholic: driven ad exec, financially successful, emotionally empty. Searching for meaning in her life, Sheri becomes a single mother. From the start, her son, Zig, displays strange behavior. He recalls people and places he couldn’t possibly know and leads Sheri to a startling discovery of a hidden ancestry she never knew existed. With Zig, the past alters the present and reality merges with the fantastic.
From the urban grind of present-day Brooklyn to the shamans and rituals in the rain forests of 19th century Panama and Costa Rica, two interwoven stories collide. Sheri learns she must find the courage to trust Zig and his mystical guidance to uncover the secrets of her past—or remain lost from herself and the truth about her origins.
Annette Vendryes Leach is a writing coach and provides author publishing services through MindPress Media, a company she started in 2013. Her novel, Song of the Shaman, is available in paperback, eBook, and audiobook formats. Annette began her career as a copywriter for an ad agency. For years, she wrote magazine, radio, and TV ads for everything from soda to the CIA. She also founded the Black Literary Club, a direct mail book club devoted to African-American, African, and Caribbean literature. A graduate of The New School, Annette majored in Creative Writing and Comparative Religion. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two sons.
"Annette Leach weaves a tale that is part fanciful and completely intriguing…From a forbidden love hundreds of years ago to a young boy in present day, Ms. Leach successfully crosses the centuries bringing the readers along with ease. This novel makes one ponder the possibility of past lives and think harder about deja vu. An intricate story told in a simplistic way. I look forward to reading more of Annette Leach’s work.”
"This book was such a good read. I really felt for Zig's mom and her struggle to understand her son and what he was going through. I hardly put it down until it was finished, and I was disappointed that it turned out to be the beginning book in a set. I'm anxiously awaiting the next book to come out so I can see what happens to Zig and his mom."
“I thoroughly enjoyed this debut book. Ms. Leach is a gifted storyteller who weaves an interesting tale. Sheri’s struggle to accept something beyond her understanding and the search for her own identity captivates the reader from start to finish. As an avid reader, I am always looking for something different, something I’ve not seen before. This novel was it. A very enjoyable read!”
“The book is well-written and the author does a very good job switching from the past to the present. Some stories that jump from past to present and back again seem choppy. This story flowed smoothly. The author does an amazing job with the imagery. It was easy to imagine life at the turn of the century in Panama and the hectic city life of New York. The characters are realistic and engaging. I found myself wondering what would happen next with Sherri and Zig and their adventures.”
“This book drew me in immediately and I could hardly stop reading. There are many stories within the pages but it was the opening where I wanted to know more about the characters and their lives. Zig and his mother are living in New York in modern times and yet the characters in 19th century Panama and Costa Rica are interwoven. This is a story of spirit and mysticism. A beautiful and compelling novel full of atmosphere. I would recommend the novel highly.”
“Exciting from beginning till end! I had so many questions and as they began to be answered more kept popping up! I could not put it down! A story that tugs at your heart with a mother trying to raise her son who was different than other children, all alone, and to not be raised as she was, all alone. Love, intrigue, excitement and an ending (or maybe a beginning) that I didn’t see coming!”
“Beautifully written. A story that touches you and evokes deeply set emotions as you embark on a journey you will not forget. Dynamic, resplendent and exquisite. I loved this story from the first page to the last. The pacing was nearly perfect right up to the very last words. Believable well fleshed out characters helped paint the scenes beautifully and weave the silky threads of their tales.”
"This was a beautifully written tragic love story with so much more. I loved how the author went from the past to the present and back to the past. It made Song of the Shaman that much more interesting. If you are looking for the real you, read this book!"
Alma Medina Fielder
“…a story of a single mum Sheri and her son Zig, a quirky kid whose memory appears to go back to long before he was born. I don’t know anything about Shamanism…But it peaked my interest and now I want to know more. A great first novel. I look forward to reading more from Annette Leach.”
“Sheri Lambert is a single mother raising an unusual child Zig. He tells her about his life as a shaman. He tells her things she couldn’t possibly know. Is there such a thing as déjà vu? Reincarnation? How does her son know so much? All these questions she tries to unravel answers too. She delves into her past to try and understand her son and their future. I found this book interesting, intriguing, and believable, as Annette Leach seems to have used some of herself in the story.”
"Amazing, Mysterious, and Spiritual! Annette Vendryes Leach masterfully uses places and events in Brooklyn, New York to develop her mysterious story of past connections. This story demonstrates the love between a mother and child, the joy of first love, and the spiritual connection of the past to the present."
"…a past-lives story full of romantic love as well as unconditional love, namely that of a mother for her son. I really enjoyed this story, as it was well-paced and well-written. I certainly hope this novel brings success for Leach and she produces other books in the future. I would definitely like to check them out."
“I loved being able to compare and contrast the modern world of today with the shamanic world of the past…As my family’s resident genealogist, I do have to say that you can learn alot about yourself and your parents by learning more about your ancestors. And it is through finding out about her ancestors that Sheri is truly able to discover herself…I feel that Annette really did a wonderful job on creating believable characters and a story line that truly engrossed me.”
“I loved this book, from the first page through to the last page it kept me wanting to keep reading and not stop. Some books that go from the past to the present are confusing but not in this case it is very easy to follow what is happening. I am looking forward to reading more from this author. Well done Annette Leach. It is a great debut novel.”
“This story made the hair on the back of my arms stand straight up. Unforgettable.”
Listen to an Audiobook Excerpt
1996 Brooklyn, New York
Zig was born on the Brooklyn Bridge in the backseat of a yellow taxicab. Sheri pushed him from her womb onto the slick vinyl seat, with century-old steel cables, limestone, and a cab driver as her sole witnesses. The small of Sheri’s back bucked against the ashtray of one door; her shoeless left foot dug into the floor of the cab. Her right leg, up on the seat and bent at the knee, banged against the backrest. Blood pooled inside her thighs. The cabbie’s frightened eyes flashed at her in the rearview mirror. She glanced at his ID; the name was long and crammed with consonants.
“Aye, Miss! Please, Miss!” He cussed himself and ran a hand through clumps of oily hair. Sheri’s senses left her, jumping somewhere off the edge of the bridge. She screamed.
The August night air was hot and foul. Around her the city boiled: horns blared, trucks roared, and street hustlers shouted while the cabbie weaved through traffic. The faint lilt of Middle Eastern music wafted to Sheri’s ears. Nothing had prepared her for this moment, not the monotonous Lamaze classes, What to Expect books, or birthing DVDs. All directives from her midwife were forgotten like yesterday’s lunch. Tufts of white fiber hung from a gouge her fingernails had torn in the backseat. Her costly new maternity dress was hiked up under her breasts. The dappled street light revealed a prunelike face and wispy hair pasted to a round head. She quickly cleared his gummy mouth; thread-thin fingers then stretched as Zig wailed. Eyes squeezed shut to the world, tiny arms quivering, he let out a newborn howl that plunged the depths of the East River. It was as intense and unwavering as a tribal call.
A queer feeling of déjà vu came over her. This scene had happened before. Hadn’t she, too, ripped her mother’s insides open in birth, saving herself yet killing her mother? Long-buried nightmares flooded her mind. Born again were all the horrors she had concocted as a child about her mother’s death, images that in no way resembled anything her adoptive parents had ever told her.
The cab raced toward Beth Israel Medical Center. Sheri held Zig’s little trembling body to hers. Blood was everywhere. Jabbing pains crashed inside her, as relentless as a prize fighter. She looked down at the ropey umbilical cord that led from her vagina to Zig’s navel, the precious lifeline that connected them, and wondered what she had passed on to him. Would he live or die? Sheri lowered her son onto her lap, wrapped him in the damp hem of her dress. She wiped his face, feeling the curious, pulsating warmth of a new life in her hands. The earthquake in her body subsided. She wasn’t afraid anymore. All her life she had felt like half a person, the other half shrouded in anonymity. Zig was lithe and small boned, like Sheri. She looked at him and she saw herself.
“Shhh…don’t cry, Zig. Mommy’s here…I’m right here.”
At the sound of her voice, he closed his mouth and opened his eyes. Her toes slid in her lone Stuart Weitzman sandal as the cab lurched onto the hospital’s sidewalk.
“Miss, lady, lady, look—emergency entrance!” The panicked driver stuck his neck out the window and yelled. “Help! Somebody help!”
He leaped from the cab, gesturing wildly to a man and woman in blue uniforms. They rushed over. The man swung open the cab door and reached inside for Sheri. Blood trickled down on his sneakers.
“She’s hemorrhaging,” he said.
The woman turned and ran toward a wheelchair. The man spit some words into a two-way radio. City lights swam in Sheri’s eyes, then went black.
“Sheri…can you hear me?
Sheri lifted her eyelids. She saw the hills of her feet at the end of the bed. Her stomach was flat. Confusion gripped her. Through a murky haze, images of a crying baby crossed her mind. Where was he? Her tongue felt like wood. She rubbed it against the roof of her mouth. A hand came into view and put a paper cup to her lips.
“Take a sip.”
The woman had short red hair…stooped shoulders…
Cool water slid down her throat. Sheri dug her elbows into the mattress, struggling with the weight of her arms.
“Easy now. You want to sit up?”
She nodded. The woman pressed a button. The bed hummed; it raised her back as if she were a stiff, inflexible plastic doll. Joanne. That’s her name. Joanne Bergen, her midwife.
“Everything’s fine,” Joanne said, sensing Sheri’s anxiety. “Your son’s fine—he’s asleep in the nursery.”
Joanne’s voice was reassuring but also loud and direct. She took Sheri’s blood pressure, read the monitors behind her head. Sheri’s tongue became a little more pliant, and she finally spoke.
“Where am I?”
“That’s more like it!” But the corners of Joanne’s mouth quickly bent into a frown. “You’re in Beth Israel’s Mother-Baby Unit. You also spent some time in the ICU. How do you feel?”
She was weak. The smallest movement was exhausting.
“Like hell. What happened?”
“The report says your water broke and you went right into labor,” Joanne boomed, shuffling through paperwork on a clipboard. She looked worn, and something else, regretful, like she had failed her in some way. “That boy was in a serious hurry—a whole three weeks ahead of schedule.” Joanne checked the tube attached to the IV drip. “You lost a lot of blood, Sheri.”
Sheri looked up at the plastic bag of fluid. So she didn’t die. Childbirth had not killed her. Both she and Zig were alive. She let her eyes wander around the dingy room she shared with another mother, separated by a thin hospital curtain.
“How long have I been here?”
“Three days. That’s normal, given your circumstances. What do you remember?” Joanne sat down on a stool near the bed. Sheri laid her arm across her forehead and looked out the window. The flat gray sky was as dull as her memory.
“I went into the kitchen to scrape Chinese food into the garbage. I felt a gush on my legs. I thought I spilled something.” She licked her lips. Joanne studied her. “Somehow I left the apartment and got into a cab. The contractions were coming faster and faster. I tried to lie back…the pain was blinding. Then I heard him crying.” Sheri paused. “Where is Zig?”
“That’s his name.”
“Oh! How cute! He’s in the nursery. Is that a family name?”
“No. It’s not associated with anything. No boyfriends, uncles, Hollywood stuntmen…”
Joanne smiled. She glanced at her watch.
“Let me see if Zig is awake.”
She pulled the curtain aside and marched out into the hall. Sheri caught a glimpse of the mother in the bed across from her, a beaming, chubby-cheeked woman surrounded by bouquets of roses and what looked like her mother, two sisters, and a shell-shocked man—probably the father. Silvery blue balloons with It’s a Boy! printed on them bobbed around the ceiling vents. Sheri had little choice but to listen to their joyful banter while she lay spent and weary.
She turned her face away from the curtain. She thought about Rene and his broad, teasing smile, how it squeezed his wandering eyes into slits, a smile full of late-night sex and devoid of commitment. A pleasure-seeker and sought-after percussionist, Rene wanted little from life off center stage. This came as no surprise to her. She had built up a steely resistance to disappointments in love. But despite this Rene was different. With him, Sheri felt a great sense of freedom. She felt alive.
Rene made her laugh and taught her how to waste time, and she dated him on and off when he wasn’t touring outside the country. There would be no divorce or custody battle. No teary scenes. No delinquent child-support payments. Nine months ago, on her thirty-fifth birthday, she got drunk and slept with him, hoping to become pregnant. By the time she knew for sure, he was on tour somewhere in South America with a world music band. It didn’t matter if or when he would ever return. Rene was already married. Music was his first and only love. The night she saw him perform a solo, she knew. The pounding rhythm wrapped its feverish arms around him, swept him away like a sweet, hypnotic lover. She understood, too. She had once felt that way when she took up a paintbrush or charcoal pencil—the thrilling sense of creation, of the unknown making itself known through your own hands. Still, that was in her youth, and unlike Rene, she gave up her first love when she grew older.
Behind the hospital curtain the grinning new father looked proud but also frightened, as if he had just lost something terribly valuable. Sheri couldn’t bear to see that expression on Rene’s face. Why should she be the one to put an end to his happy childhood?
Conceiving alone was a running joke, passed around like salt among soured, unattached girlfriends at lunch. No one would admit the underlying truth—the wish to have a child by any means necessary. For Sheri, it was tangled and deep rooted, a yearning that threw a harsh light on the greatest source of sadness in her life: her adoption.
Copyright © 2013 Annette Vendryes Leach