~ About the Book ~
Right up until the day they burned the church, I thought I understood things. You know… God, people, myself. Life. Then, suddenly, I understood nothing except that we had to run. And that we might never make it home.
When eighteen-year-old Cori signed up for a mission trip to Indonesia she was mostly thinking about escaping her complicated love life, making new friends, and having fun on the beach.
She never expected a civil war to flare up on the nearby island of Ambon.
She never expected violence to find them.
And she never expected that seven teenagers would be forced to flee into the hazardous refuge of the mountains on their own.
Now, haunted by blood and fire, Cori and her teammates must rely on each other to survive.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Suspense/YA
Release date: 4 September 2018
Publisher: Karinya Press
~ Excerpt ~
It was Tuesday night a week later that Diane stopped by our tent to scold Drew and me for staying up too late talking. She seemed perfectly fine then, but the next morning she woke up doubled over, pale and sweating. She could hardly talk. It was obvious that she needed a doctor, and not just one at the small clinic in Hatumentan, twenty kilometers away by motorcycle. Gary had no choice—Diane clearly had to catch that morning’s boat to Ambon, and he had to go with her.
The rest of us felt that we did have a choice, though, and we wanted to stay. Even if Diane did have appendicitis and we had to cut the mission short, we could catch the next boat to Ambon in three days, and those three days would be long enough for us to finish the church.
After a brief hesitation Gary agreed, his face drawn and strained as he issued a litany of instructions and stuffed clothes into his backpack at the same time.
Daniel’s in charge. Help Mariati with the cooking. Here are your passports and money; keep them safe. If I’m not back on Saturday, be on that boat, and Tim or I will meet you at the dock in Ambon. . . . Pray.
Later, after it happened, while we were hiking through the jungle, I sometimes played the what-if game in my head. What if I’d never gone on a missions trip? What if I’d gone to Florida with the church group like Mum wanted me to? What if we’d left with Gary that day? That was always my last what-if; after that, there were no more jumping-off points. Those last three days were a countdown to something far larger than finding out whether we were going to have to head home or stay out the summer. We just didn’t know it.
~ My Review ~
This was an absolutely riveting read. Unputdownable. Not only were the events it described compelling, but they were supported by a vivid setting, a strong cast of characters, and an engaging first-person narrative that effortlessly immersed me in the story.
In my reading experience, mid- to late-teens are a difficult group to portray authentically, but these were some of the best I’ve encountered. The wonderful comradery that developed was enlivened by the kind of tension that comes with a mix of personalities, and they had that strange blend of maturity and immaturity that’s unique to their age group. Most importantly, the way they responded to their circumstances and processed the emotions and questions that arose was 100% believable.
I also loved that this story felt both complete and open-ended. It’s not the kind of story you finish off with a nice neat bow. It’s the kind of story that has an ongoing impact and reminds us that sin makes this world a bewildering, harsh, and seemingly unfair place at times. And yet, God can still be found in the midst of it all. It was on that point that I most appreciated that this author didn’t give her teen characters wisdom beyond their years. I’m sorry I keep using the word authentic, but it really is the best word for what I want to convey. The way these teens grappled with their faith in light of their situation was authentic precisely because it was messy and they didn’t have all the answers.
In all honesty, I’ve never read another story like this one. Harrowing, heartfelt, and even a little humorous on occasion, it’s simply a must-read.
~ About the Author ~
Lisa McKay is a psychologist who works with humanitarian aid workers. She is also the author of the award-winning memoir, Love At The Speed Of Email. She and her family live in Vanuatu.