Thursday, October 31, 2013

MOTHERLINE (LISA ROSEN)

 
 
Trade Paperback/ISBN:  9780989370103
 
Maggie and Sam are about to have their first child.   Maggie is already passed her nine month due date and is feeling impatient and frustrated and is having trouble sleeping.  She is worried, not knowing what to expect when she goes into labour.  She is also worried about screwing up as a mother and even wonders to herself if babies can explode if you don’t burp them properly. 
 
Maggie is excited at the prospect of her new baby meeting her ninety-three-year-old grandmother, Yaya.  Not every child is lucky enough to have a great-grandmother.  Her relationship with her own mother, Katharine is strained after her Mom had fallen apart when Maggie was young and  pulled herself away from the demands of being a mother to her and her sister, Dara. 
 
Katharine has appeared to be more distant than usual since Maggie got pregnant – “a secret disappointment to Maggie, who had hoped the pregnancy might deepen their relationship.”  Maggie has no idea about how to strengthen and bridge the gap between them. 
 
As Maggie labours she becomes more and more upset about what she perceives as the lack of people caring for her and about her as she goes through this pain.  She is annoyed that her mother has yet to show up at the hospital while she is struggling through the pain and wants her family around her but all she has is Sam and his mother.  All she wants is to “have a baby, and have a nice, normal family that would show up and be excited for me.” 
 
I felt so sorry for Maggie throughout the story.  She made it so much harder on herself to struggle through labour worrying and questioning herself about her family, or lack of.  We all wish and want a “normal” family but unfortunately that doesn’t always work out.  Sometimes we have to accept what we have and move on as best we can. 
 
I absolutely loved Motherline and read it in one day.  I just couldn’t put it down.  I was so engrossed in the novel that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. 
 
Motherline is a story about families, mothers and daughters, deep soul searching, forgiveness, love, and acceptance.  This is one story that all mothers and daughters would enjoy regardless of what type of relationship they share. 
 
Lisa Rosen is a great author and I’m so looking forward to her second book which, hopefully, will be out sometime in 2014. 
 


Sunday, October 27, 2013

CHRISTMAS AT HARMONY HILL (ANN H. GABHART)

 
 
Story Description:
 
Baker Publishing Group|September 15, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-8007-1982-1
 
It is 1864 and the nation is still torn apart by civil war when Heather Worth discovers she is with child.  She has been working as a laundress with her husband’s army unit, but when the army gets orders to march south to Tennessee, Gideon insists Heather go home to have their child under safer conditions.  Heather agrees, but returns home to another kind of devastation – deaths in the family and a father who refuses to forgive her for marrying a Yankee.  With nowhere else to turn, Heather seeks refuge at the Shaker Village of Harmony Hill, where her great aunt Sophrena lives.  There, after many peaceful years at Harmony Hill, Sophrena is having doubts about her Shaker path.  Both women are in need of love and forgiveness – whether given or received.  With Christmas coming, can the miracle of a new life fill their hearts with unexpected joy? 
 
Ann H.Gabhart’s many fans will be thrilled to return to Harmony Hill at Christmastime for this stirring story of healing and hope.
 
My Review:
 
Heather Worth is a washerwoman for the men in the war.  Following along with her husband, Gideon’s unit, she struggles day after day with the loads of trousers and coats that become filthy from crawling and laying on the ground.  It is 1864 and the nation is torn apart by Civil war, but Heather’s choice to become a laundry woman allows her to stay by her beloved husband’s side. 
 
Soon Heather discovers she is pregnant and Gideon does not want his child being born on a battlefield so he sends Heather home to her mother so she can help birth her baby. 
 
After a long and arduous journey, the family farm comes into view.  Sitting on the porch is her father who was not happy to see her and turned her away.  He was an angry and embittered man.  With nowhere else to turn, Heather ends up at Harmony Hill, a Shaker Village where her great aunt Sophrena is a sister.  Heather doesn’t understand their strange beliefs or their strange ways, but they take her in and are kind to her.  She longs for the peace she sees in this strange community, but can this longing really be fulfilled amid these people with their peculiar beliefs about family?
 
As Christmas draws near, the joy of a new life and the love that is born of forgiveness may hold the answer. 
 
Christmas at Harmony Hill is a story of love, family, hope, and healing.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and read it in one sitting, I just couldn’t put it down. 
 
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”
 


Saturday, October 26, 2013

A SIMPLE CHRISTMAS WISH (MELODY CARLSON)

 
 
Story Description:
 
Baker Publishing Group|September 15, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-8007-1965-4
 
Rachel Milligan is caring for her seven-year-old niece, Holly, at her home in Chicago when she receives devastating news: Holly’s parents have been killed in a plane crash.  Because Rachel is Holly’s only known relative, she assumes that she will be her beloved niece’s guardian.  However, custody is awarded to Lydia, a distant aunt who happens to be Amish.  Just a week before Christmas, Rachel takes Holly to the Amish community in the hopes of persuading Aunt Lydia to relinquish custody.  Instead, Lydia sets out to teach Holly to live according to the Amish way.  As family secrets emerge and old wounds are healed, Rachel realizes that she will do whatever it takes to ensure that Holly has the loving family she needs. 
 
Combining an Amish family saga with the anticipation of Christmas cheer and the promise of a budding romance, this newest Christmas story from beloved author Melody Carlson is sure to please. 

 
My Review:

 
Thirty-five-year-old, Rachel Milligan and her seven-year-old niece, Holly were spending time together in Chicago the week before Christmas.  Holly’s parents, Michael and Miri were away on vacation and Aunt Rachel was babysitting.  Rachel was Michael’s sister. 
 
Holly and Rachel went out and got a beautiful evergreen Christmas tree and lugged it home and up to the forty-ninth floor to the Milligan’s apartment.  They strung coloured lights and spent the rest of the day making home-made Christmas decorations to adorn the tree.  Satisfied with the job they’d done, they made hot chocolate and sat beneath the tree watching the coloured lights and singing the odd Christmas carol.  It was getting late and it had been a long and busy day so Rachel got Holly off to bed.  Holly was so happy she was almost glowing. 
 
With Holly fast asleep, Rachel sat in Michael’s favourite chair to relax and ponder over the days’ events.  Suddenly the phone rang and Rachel hurried to pick up the receiver before the ringing could wake Holly. 
 
On the other end of the line was a voice she didn’t’ recognize but what she was told would change her and Holly’s life forever.  And in less than a week, Rachel and Holly would find themselves driving from Chicago to Ohio to Amish country. 
 
A Simple Christmas Wish was a story full of love, redemption, and the true meaning of the holiday spirit.  Although I felt very saddened for Rachel and young Holly, I also felt the change in the characters involved in the story as the realization of what was “right” settled upon them like a fresh blanket of snow.  A Simple Christmas Wish would make a great family read around the Christmas tree over a couple of evenings.  I loved it!!
 
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group."
 
 
 
 
 


Sunday, October 20, 2013

MY STORY (ELIZABETH SMART)

 
 
Story Description:
 
St. Martin’s Press|October 7, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-250-04015-2
 
For the first time, then years after her abduction from her Salt Lake City bedroom, Elizabeth Smart reveals how she survived and the secret to forging a new life in the wake of a brutal crime. 
 
On June5, 2002,  fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee.  She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape.  After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life. 
 
Now for the first time, in her memoir MY STORY, she tells of the constant fear she endured every hour, her courageous determination to maintain hope, and how she devised a plan to manipulate her captors and convinced them to return to Utah, where she was rescued minutes after arriving.  Smart explains how her faith helped her stay sane in the midst of a nightmare and how she found the strength to confront her captors at their trial and see that justice was served. 
 
My Review:
 
When Elizabeth Smart was just fourteen-years-old she was taken at knife-point from her bed in the middle of the night by Brian David Mitchell. 
 
Mitchell was an evil, religious fanatic, pedophile who thought he was a prophet and that he was doing God’s work.  Even as a teenager he was convicted for pedophilia after exposing himself to a child.  He attended Mormon churches just long enough to get the language down in order to fool people while preaching and conducting sermons.  He made threats of violence to his own family and married his current wife, Wanda Barzee the same day his divorce from his second wife came through. 
 
Wanda Barzee was as crazy, disturbed, manipulative, and depraved as Mitchell.  She gave up all parental rights to her six children in order to marry Mitchell.  Mitchell believed he had been chosen by God.  Mitchell’s own mother was so frightened of him that she took out a restraining order against him.  All Mitchell was interested in was pedophilia, drugs, alcohol, and pornography.  He called himself the Prophet Immanuel David Isiah. 
 
June 4, 2002 was the night Mitchell cut a screen in a window and gained access to the Smart’s home.  In total darkness he fumbled his way up the stairs and found Elizabeth’s room.  Upon awakening her, he held an eight-inch serrated edged knife up to her throat and told her: “Don’t make a sound.  Get out of bed, or I’ll kill you and your family.”  Elizabeth was frightened, her heart began to race and she fought the urge to scream for fear he would kill her family if he hadn’t already. 
 
The words “I will kill your family” kept echoing in her ears and she had no doubt that he would carry through on his threat.  Mitchell walked Elizabeth up the mountain behind her home in the pitch black night to a camp he had readied and where Wanda Barzee waited.  From that first day, Elizabeth’s descent into hell began.  She was raped every single day and subjected to perverted acts that we don’t even want to think about or imagine.  She was chained around the ankle with the other end tethered to a tree.  She could only move about twenty feet in any direction. 
 
Although this was a terrifying and horrifying ordeal for someone her age to go through, Elizabeth had made up her mind that somehow she would survive.  She was not going to allow Mitchell and Barzee to drag her down.  Elizabeth had days where she cried and cried and cried as it was the only way she could relieve the immense pressure of the stress she was under, but with his usual controlling ways, Mitchell told her she wasn’t allowed to cry anymore.  The one thing however, he could not take away from her was her conversations with God.  She prayed regularly and knew and felt that God was with her every step of the way. 
 
MY STORY, written ten years after her ordeal reveals how she survived and the secret to forging a new life in the wake of a brutal and utterly horrifying crime. 
 


I AM MALALA (MALALA YOUSAFZAI)

 
 
 
Story Description:
 
Little, Brown And Company|October 8, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-316-32240-9

 
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out.  Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
 
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price.  She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school and few expected her to survive. 
 
Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York.  At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. 
 
I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons. 
 
I AM MALALA will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world. 
 
My Review:

 
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012 just after midday, fifteen-year-old, Malala was shot in the head at point-blank range.  She was riding the school bus with her friends when the Taliban stopped the bus and a gunman reached in through the back door and shot her where she sat on the back seat. 
 
Malala was flown out of Pakistan unconscious while everyone around her said she would never return nor survive, but survive she did.  She is living in Birmingham, England and can’t go home to her beautiful Swat Valley for fear she’ll be killed by the Taliban.  Malala misses her friends, her room, the snow-capped mountains, the green waving fields, and the fresh blue rivers.  She especially misses her best friend, Moniba who she sometimes Skypes with. 
 
Malala loved school and was a good student and referred to herself as a “bookish girl.”  Since the time of the Taliban her school had no sign and the ornamented brass door in the white wall of the building across from the woodcutter’s yard gave no hint of what lay behind that door.  For the girls of the school, it was like a magical entrance to their own special world.  The Taliban didn’t believe in education for girls and did whatever they could to uncover any place that was teaching girls. 
 
The school Malala attended was founded by her father before she was born.  It was called the “Khushal School” and was painted in red and white letters inside the school.  The girls attended six mornings a week and Malala was in Grade 9 when she was shot. 
 
Malala had been given awards for campaigning for peace in their valley and the right for girls to go to school.  Her bedroom was also full of trophies for coming first in her class and she was proud of her accomplishments, as she should be.  However, the Taliban took a dim view of her campaigning for education. 
 
She had begun riding the school bus as her mother was afraid of her walking home alone for fear of the Taliban.  The Taliban had never taken a girl before and Malala thought her own father would be a target for them as they had been receiving threats all year.  Some were in the newspaper, some were notes or messages passed on by people.  Malala’s father was always speaking out against the Taliban so it was a surprise when they targeted her.  One of her father’s friends had been shot in the face in August on his way to prayers and everyone began telling Malala’s father to be careful because he was going to be next. 
 
I AM MALALA is rich in history and tells how Pakistan came to be, how the Taliban took over and the story of what happened to Malala after she was shot.  Very well written and kept me glued to my seat.  Malala is one brave and courageous young woman!
 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

PILGRIMAGE: My Journey to a Deeper Faith in the Land Where Jesus Walked (LYNN AUSTIN)

 
 
Story Description:
 
Baker Publishing Group|November 5, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-7642-1118-8
 
We all encounter times when our spirit feels dry, when doubt looms. 
 
The opportunity to tour Israel came at a good time.  For months, my life has been a mindless plodding through necessary routine, as monotonous as an all-night shift on an assembly line.  Life gets that way sometimes, when nothing specific is wrong but the world around us seems drained of color.  Even my weekly worship experiences and daily quiet times with God have felt as dry and stale as last year’s crackers.  I’m ashamed to confess the malaise I’ve felt.  I have been given so much.  Shouldn’t a Christian’s life be an abundant one, as exciting as Christmas morning, as joyful as Easter Sunday? 
 
With gripping honesty, Lynn Austin pens her struggles with spiritual dryness in a season of loss and unwanted change.  Tracing her travels throughout Israel, Austin seamlessly weaves events and insights from the Word…and in doing so finds a renewed passion for prayer and encouragement for her spirit, now full of life and hope. 
 
My Review:
 
Pilgrimage was a soul-searching and deeply moving account of Austin’s trek through Israel.  I found myself deeply invested in her writing and the words gave me a lot of food for thought.  I wish we all had the opportunity to take this same trek through Israel.  What better way to fully understand and aid in the comprehension of what we’ve read in the Bible.  To journey along the same routes that Jesus did for me, would hold special meaning for the rest of my life. 
 
I learned a lot while reading and will endeavour to make immediate changes in my spiritual life and my daily living life.  It’s so true that when times get hectic in our lives, we often have our prayer time on our “to-do” list to be checked off like completing the laundry.  We need to set aside regular, uninterrupted time to talk with God.  How can we really pray and mean what we say when our mouth is saying the words but our minds are thinking about what to cook for dinner.  We have to invest time with God and God alone. 
 
Lynn Austin’s Pilgrimage is a book to be kept and read again and again to remind us the importance of our daily conversations with God.  Thank you, Lynn for sharing your pilgrimage and your most intimate thoughts with us. 
 


Monday, October 14, 2013

ON DISTANT SHORES: A NOVEL (SARAH SUNDIN)

 
 
Story Description:
 
Baker Publishing Group|August 1, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-8007-2082-7
 
Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want.  A comfortable boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse.  But in July 1943, Georgie’s cozy life gets decidedly more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson.  Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a non-commissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancĂ©e. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart.  Can they weather the hurt and betrayal?  Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they’ve made? 
 
My Review:
 
Lt. Georgiana Taylor is a flight nurse with the 802nd Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron.  Georgiana and five other nurses make up her team who provide medical aid to the boys and men fighting in the war.  Providing treatment of injuries in air saves many more lives than waiting until they can cross ground to get to a field hospital.  This early intervention is worth its weight in gold.  They treat everything from mild shock to dysentery to malaria to horrible amputations.  One must be of strong mind and body to work in this field. 
 
It is July of 1943 and Georgiana is flying back to base with casualties from Gela, Sicily.  She hops between patients taking notes and assessing each patient carefully for injuries sustained, giving medications when necessary or changing dressings or administering pain medications.  Her job is to keep these men as comfortable as possible until their final destination and she doesn’t like to make mistakes.  She will often have another crew member check her calculations when administering medications to prevent an overdose. 
 
She has a boyfriend, Ward back home who she’s been dating for nine years.  Their plan is to marry and run Ward’s farm together when she’s out of the army.  But her cozy life gets turned upside down when she meets pharmacist John Hutchinson (Hutch) and things begin to heat up.
 
Georgiana outranks Hutch which poses a problem for them in seeing each other and they must be careful and creative with clandestine meetings.  Hutch is a non-commissioned serviceman and detests how the war keeps him from his fiancĂ©e, Lillian, back home. 
 
With so many things going on, the seas begin to change and Georgiana and Hutch fall in love but this is an impossible relationship, it just simply cannot work.  Or can it? 
 
With the death of one of Georgiana’s flight nurses, she takes it very, very badly and the grieving is hard.  She becomes a bit bitter.
 
In the meantime, Hutch is busy with a seven-year-old little Italian girl named Lucia who he falls madly in love with and helps her back to health.  Both her legs have been crushed and whether she will ever walk again remains to be seen.  Lucia has no family all of them have been killed in the war so the only place available for her is an orphanage which just kills Hutch to have to leave her there. 
 
Georgiana and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, but their lives back home are falling apart.  Can they withstand the hurt and betrayal?  Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they’ve made? 
 
On Distant Shores was a captivating read and I’m looking forward to the third and final book in this series due out in 2014. 
 


Thursday, October 10, 2013

CITY OF HOPE (KATE KERRIGAN)

 
 
Story Description:
 
William Morrow|June 25, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-06-2223728-6
 
The heartrending and inspiring sequel to “Ellis Island”, Kate Kerrigan’s City of Hope is an uplifting story of a woman truly ahead of her time. 
 
When her beloved husband suddenly dies, young Ellie Hogan decides to leave Ireland and return to New York, where she worked in the 1920’s.  She hopes that the city will distract her from her anguish.  But the Great Depression has rendered the city unrecognizable.  Gone are the magic and ambiance that once captured Ellie’s imagination. 
 
Plunging headfirst into a new life, Ellie pours her passion and energy into running a refuge for the homeless.  Her calling provides the love, support, and friendship she needs in order to overcome her grief – until, one day, someone Ellie never thought she’d see again steps through her door.  It seems that even the vast Atlantic Ocean isn’t enough to keep the tragedies of the past from catching up with her. 
 
My Review:
 
City of Hope is the second installment of Ellie’s story.  The first book was titled: “Ellis Island.”
 
In City of Hope, Ellie’s husband, John, suddenly dies.  She decides she doesn’t want to stay in Ireland and returns to New York where she started out a few years ago when she came to live out the American dream in the 1920’s. 
 
Ellie is having a difficult time grieving and is unable to cry over John’s sudden passing.  Looking for something to distract herself she again decides to return to New York city, hoping beyond hope that living among the hustle and bustle of a large city will quell her anguish. 
 
Upon her arrival, Ellie is disappointed to see that the Great Depression has taken its toll on her beloved New York.  She just doesn’t feel the magic anymore. 
 
Not knowing what to do with herself she starts up a tenement house, a refuge for homeless people.  She has enough money and purchases her first run-down house and hires some workers to help her fi it up.  Once repaired, Ellie begins finding people to place in her home and one day meets up with someone she thought she’d never, ever see again. 
 
City of Hope has a little of everything in it:  love, hate, compassion, grief, and even a murder!  It was an enthralling read and I would have read it in one sitting but had to break for an appointment.  City of Hope is simply a must read.
 


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

THE FUNERAL DRESS (SUSAN GREGG GILMORE)

 
 
Crown Publishing Group|September 3, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-307-88621-7
 
Emmalee Bullard and her new baby are on their own.  Or so she thinks, until Leona Lane, the older seamstress who sat by her side at the local shirt factory where both women worked as collar makers, insists Emmalee come and live with her.  Just as Emmalee prepares to escape her hardscrabble life in Red Chert Holler, Leona dies tragically.  Grief-stricken, Emmalee decides she’ll make Leona’s burying dress, but there are plenty of people who don’t think the unmarried Emmalee should design a dress for a Christian woman – or care for a child on her own.  But with every stitch,  Emmalee struggles to do what is right for her daughter and to honor Leona the best way she can, finding unlikely support among an indomitable group of seamstresses and the town’s funeral director.  In a moving tale exploring Southern spirit and camaraderie among working women, a young mother will compel a town to become a community. 
 
It’s amazing what a community can do together.   The Funeral Dress was a most enjoyable read!
 



Saturday, October 5, 2013

THREE SOULS (JANIE CHANG)

 
Story Description:
 
Harper Collins|August 12, 2013|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-44342-390-8
 
Leiyin has to make a choice:  Should she save her only child or forever relinquish her own afterlife? 
 
Civil war China is fractured by social and political change.  Behind the magnificent gates of the Song family estate, however, none of this upheaval has touched Leiyin, a spoiled and idealistic teenager.  But when Leiyin meets the captivating left-wing poet Hanchin, she defies her father and learns a harsh reality: that her father has the power to dictate her fate.  Leyin’s punishment for disobedience leads to exile from her family, an unwanted marriage and ultimately a lover’s betrayal – followed by her untimely death.  Now a ghost, Leiyin must make amends to earn entry to the afterlife.  But when her young daughter faces a dangerous future, Leiyin has to make a heart-wrenching choice.   
 
My Review:
 
Three Souls is a rare book which would not only be a perfect book club pick, but is a page-turning, fantastic read.  This is a debut novel but you’d never know it.  Janie Chang writes like a well-seasoned author. 
 
Leiyin has passed on at a young age and leaves behind a young daughter.  She suddenly realizes that she is sitting in the midst of her own funeral watching from above.  Leiyin understands then that she has passed on and is now a ghost. 
 
Unfortunately, she has been denied admittance to the afterlife because she has committed some wrongs during her lifetime and must somehow correct these wrongs before she can move on.  Leiyin is accompanied by her three souls: her romantic yin soul, her very wise hun soul, and her scholarly yang soul.  The three souls, along with Leiyin must figure out how she can right the wrongs or they’ll all be trapped in nothingness for eternity. 
 
It was the very moment that the priest had said the last prayer and sealed her coffin closed that she woke up and floated upward in a slow moving drift of incense smoke.  She stopped and was sitting in the rafter looking down at the attendees of her funeral. 
 
The odd thing was that she had knowledge but no memories of her life. 
 
As she peered down, she saw on the altar a wooden tablet gleaming with gold-painted characters that were actually carved right into the surface.  What was printed into the tablet said: “Song Leiyin.  Beloved Wife.  Dutiful Daughter.  She recognized that is was indeed her name. 
 
The first time she noticed her three souls was when the priest had concluded his service.  It was at that moment she saw the three bright sparks moving in the air net to her. The souls were small, red as paint, but knew inherently that they couldn’t be seen by the attendees of her funeral. 
 
Leiyin notice a little girl dressed in white mourning robes with red rimmed eyes.  Obviously this young one had been weeping.  She suddenly recognized that this child was her daughter, Weilan.  So startled at seeing her, Leiyin floated down beside the child and wrapped her in her arms, but she could not feel Weilan.  The only thing she could do to comfort herself was to repeat the pet names she had called her daughter during her life. 
 
The three souls then began chatting that Leiyin needed to understand why she was being held back from her afterlife and left floating, invisible, to everyone in the real world.  Her yang soul spoke up and said Leiyan was still here because: “…she was responsible for a great wrong” that she needed to right. 
 
Leiyin, immediately told her three souls that she didn’t remember anything about committing a great wrong and was certain she had not been any type of criminal during her lifetime. 
 
The three souls then explained that she would relive her memories and only then would she understand her detention in this earthly realm, and what she must do to correct it.  It was extremely important that Leiyan understand the damage she had done in her life.  Only if she attained that goal would she ascend to her afterlife, along with her three souls.  If she failed, she’d be stuck as a hungry ghost in between worlds forever.  The three souls could not move on either without Leiyan. 
 
The souls decided they should begin showing Leiyan her earthly life beginning when she was a teenager and attending a party.  Suddenly she finds herself standing “on a street lined with sycamore trees and high, whitewashed walls.”  In that moment she realizes that she is that girl.  Leiyan then knew “everything about my life before that moment”, but knew nothing about what was to come. 
 
The story of Leiyan’s life, as she observes, begins in Changchow, China in 1938.
 
I absolutely cannot say enough about this book.  If I could rate it at 100 stars, I would!!  Don’t miss out on this superbly crafted story.  Thank you Ms. Chang for some of the best reading I’ve done in a while.