"Many pillars of Rachel’s ideological framework concerning things of the church shook, crumbling."

In this emotive story, author Charis shows her heroine Rachel at first acting the role of the contented, obedient wife of Jonathan, a popular Christian preacher. Everything seems right in their lives… so why does she attempt suicide? Piecing Rachel’s life together through memory and memoir, we see how the death of her son Taylor—who was killed fighting in Iraq—undermined her placid view of the world. Taylor never felt his father’s love or approval, nor has Rachel. Since questioning the implacable, arrogant Jonathan is impossible, Rachel decides to die. Luckily, she is saved and, in recuperation, meets a young artist, Ariel, whose vibrant paintings begin to restore her faith in herself. But will Rachel’s metamorphosis now threaten Jonathan’s career plans, since he has been assured of worldwide fame through a meeting with the President?

Debut novelist Charis spins her tale like a seasoned craftsperson, offering differing viewpoints to underscore the intense, conflicting feelings that are assailing her heroine. She manages to reasonably present Jonathan’s perceptions of his wife as a traitor to his personal cause while keeping the reader firmly in Rachel’s camp. Her plot features venturesome twists and turns equally balanced with a thought-provoking look at America’s patriotic and spiritual values, cleverly utilizing the contrasting ideals of husband and wife as a metaphor for a national political divide. The author’s expertise in staging many varied scenes is confirmed in several key instances that give the book a cinematic feel. Charis has capably managed the interweaving of an intelligent exploration of religious beliefs and social values, the tribulations of a longtime relationship derailing, and gritty, thriller-worthy excitement. It would be easy to envision a sequel to this powerful tale, and, doubtless, Charis’ audience will be hoping for more from this engaging storyteller.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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