I really enjoyed this Historical Western Romance. I voluntarily chose to review this and I've given it a 4.5* rating. This pulled at my heartstrings from the beginning. This heroine has lost so much and yet she pulled herself together and decides to move on, literally to the west for a new start. It was a lot different than she was used to, but it didn't stop her. A wonderful ending. This is also the 16th book of the Sweet Romance Collection. So on to the next.
I have read and reviewed a couple of the author’s books in the past and enjoyed them, and I was intrigued by this book when it came out, but due to my personal circumstances (my father suffered from cancer and died around the time of its publication) I didn’t feel I was in the best frame of mind for it. Now that it has been published as part of The Fraud and Miracle Trilogy, I was very pleased to receive a paperback copy and finally get to read it.
The story is deceptively simple. A woman suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer, desperate, follows the advice of her personal assistant and approaches a healer, Arpan. I am not sure if he would call himself a “faith” healer, but he insists that those he treats should be totally invested in the process, including transferring 50% of their assets to his account. Although he states all that money goes to charity, it caused suspicion and scandal years back, and he has been keeping a low profile ever since. After much insistence and a different deal, he agrees to treat Erica, who also has secrets of her own. There are strange conspiracies surrounding Arpan and his healing process but Erica’s life is changed forever. Things are not as they seem, of course.
The story is written in the third person from Erica’s point of view, and we get to share in her doubts, suspicions, paranoia, hope, and also to experience the healing with her. The book transmits a sense of claustrophobia, and although there are treks around the Welsh countryside and later we move to a different country, most of the story takes place within Arpan’s tent, and there are only a few main characters (mostly Erica (Maria), Arpan (Amesh), and Anuj) with some secondary characters that we don’t get to know very well (Hilda, Julia, Gunnar). There are no lengthy descriptions of settings or of the appearance of the characters, because we follow the point of view of a woman totally preoccupied with her health and her mortality, and that makes her not the most reliable of narrators. She describes the physical and mental effects that the illness and the healing process have on her, and we are also privy to her suspicions and doubts. The book offers fascinating psychological insights into how much our “rational” point of view can change when our life is at stake, and it is impossible to read it and not wonder what we would do in Erica’s place.
I kept thinking that the story, which relies heavily on dialogue (both between characters and also internal dialogue), would make a great play, and its intensity would be well suited to the stage. Although most of the characters are not sympathetic, to begin with, their humanity and the big questions they are forced to deal with make them intriguing and worthy subjects of our observations.
The ending brings a great twist to the story. Although I think most readers will have been suspicious and on alert due to the secrets, false information, continuous doubts, and different versions of the truth on offer, the actual ending will make them question everything and re-evaluate the story in a different light. And, considering the nature of the subject it deals with, that is a great achievement.
I recommend it to those who enjoy stories that make them think, to readers who are not searching for cheap thrills and prefer a psychologically astute book and especially to those who want to feel personally invested in the stories they read. I look forward to the rest of the books in the trilogy.
I'd heard great things about the author, and I went into this knowing I'd hate the art, because I'd seen this in paper. But it was on sale for one dollar, and I figured why not?
Unfortunately the art killed a lot of this for me. It's not the manga style, even with characters I know. Manga art can be amazing. This particular art just didn't do it for me, and was quite frankly not the best, even with understanding how manga art differs from Western art.
This would play better if it didn't feel a little like some episodes; the question of whether or not teen outsiders, and those who had been done wrong, have been dealt with in the series, in a more nuanced way in my opinion. The friends flipping on each other felt like that episode where Buffy's once-upon-a-time bestie male friend came from out of town, too.
So, yeah, not as impressed as I thought I'd be. I was hoping for more, but glad to finally read this series and get a sense of what it was.
This book provides students the opportunity to see a character building confidence throughout the story. Winn-Dixie changes Opal's life by giving her the confidence to be herself. An writing activity that students could do is write about a mistake you made or a struggled you experienced on a bottle shaped paper. This writing activity will hang on a paper cut out of a tree similar to the ghost tree in the book.
Reading Level: Lexile 670L