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I just finished the book, and I just wanted to write in that it is a great book. Michele paints a beautifully descriptive picture that envelopes you and brings you into it. For whatever my opinion might be worth, trust me and purchase this novel.  Its only fault is that it goes by so fast I wish I could read it again for the first time.
James Bryant (IL)
It has taken me only two days to read this book; once you start you’ll want to read to the end. The story is so heartfelt and obviously draws on the author’s experience as a teacher and an “M.K.” (missionary’s kid). I defy anyone to read this book and not be affected by its message. The characters come to life through Michele’s adept and talented use of language, you feel a personal relationship with Casey, Luke and Ben very quickly. The story unfolds very naturally and is skillfully written.I hope that Ms.Phoenix has more books in the making.
Dinah Taylor (ON, Canada)
What a beautifully written book! Many of the passages soar poetically. I found myself frequently caught up in the beauty of Ms. Phoenix’s written word. In addition, I also felt deeply for the major characters in their struggles with faith and interpersonal relationships. I am glad that the author wrote the afterword, however. Such misguided albeit zealous parents as the Landons are, I hope, a very small minority, especially in this “enlightened” age, when mission boards and their constituents are more atune to the needs of missionary children.
Marilyn Dailey (GA)
This first novel is set on the French island of Ile deBatz, where high-school teacher Casey retreats following [tragic events in the life] of a beloved student-friend. The islanders are coldly inhospitable and her rented home bleak so that Casey is left to cope with her pain alone. What’s wonderful about this novel is how real Casey is and how much readers will care about her and the issue she has to confront. The author was a student of mine some years ago in an Advanced Fiction class at Wheaton Graduate School, and the promise she showed as a student has matured into a writer of strength, confidence and spiritual insight.
Myrna R. Grant (IL)
I can validate the rawness and reality of Casey’s emotions. Having experienced [tragedies] connected to or emanating from yet another community, I also share Casey’s feelings of disbelief and horror in the face of clearly abusive ‘spiritual’ relationships. This is but one series of snapshots of the wounding (sometimes fatal) that occurs in a context which God meant for healing. On a less emotional (yet very emotive) issue, the author’s obviously–and appropriately–sympathetic understanding of French culture creates a poignant, and sometimes humorous, portrayal of very real people. I appreciate the fact that we were not given a ‘story book’ ending with Casey being swept up in Luke’s arms. We were left with everyone still ‘in process,’ a most uncomfortable–but real life–view of our world: peace amid carnage, a few answers amid a flood of questions, faith in the midst of pain. Thanks, Michele, for this book!
Richard Cruse (England)
Knowing the author and having worked artistically with her, I expected this to be an excellently crafted novel, and I was not disappointed! The description of the Ile de Batz makes you feel like you’ve been there. The characters are so alive that I miss them already. But this is no fluffy novel — it’s honest and open and it makes you think. I highly recommend this book!
Cheri Dueck (MB, Canada)
The story unfolds along two parallel tracks, one present, and one past: The present track chronicles Casey’s gradual recovery from the devastation she has experienced, while the past track chronicles the events leading up to it, through her interaction with a troubled student.
Casey is real, even though we become acquainted with her in a work of fiction. She is believable as a real person, which is unfortunate because it reminds us of the difficult truth that this story is inspired by real events. As Casey gradually finds healing, she is able to face more of the reality of what happened, and the contrast between her improving condition and what we learn of her student’s heartbreaking experience is striking.
This book presents and stirs up a lot of raw emotion. It is not a feel-good read, but it is very honest, and that is probably the only appropriate way to deal with a subject like this. Expect no quick and easy answers–the book offers none because it recognizes that there are none to be found. And in that, it pays tribute to those who have endured “missionary zeal gone tragically awry” and honors their memory.
Casey’s loss does not result from any mistake on her part. She just loves and believes in her student with a genuineness that is comforting. And even though her efforts do not rescue him, the way that she mourns for him is a compelling acknowledgment of the tremendous value that has been placed in each one of us. It is tragic that there should be a need for the Caseys of this world, but their willingness to know and to love is a precious and powerful statement of God’s own love for us.
My high rating comes from being able to relate to the subject matter, but the appeal of the story probably extends to any teacher or friend who has dealt with deep loss of someone that they loved. I would especially recommend this book for missionary kids whose lives have been hurt in the name of service to God, for whom the message is that people do mourn your pain, and for their missionary parents who may be unaware of the needless casualties of their holy war.
Neil Steiner (VA)