Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Space Between Words by Michele Phoenix

I usually don't share so much of the story to where it spoils it for a reader. But here in this review it's hard to share without doing so. If you're eager to read this novel just skip my review. You may pick up this novel and love it. I wouldn't want to spoil a novel for one so anticipating it's reading. 

What caught my attention for this novel was the cover. The pondering of the space between words. You know those words not spoken, often held inside, and sometimes acted out. I thought the idea of treasure finding was exciting. After all I love antiquing and pondering the story behind the objects I'm holding. I too was excited to see this backstory of the Huguenots and the mystery of an ancient document and how it related to the main character.

This was one of those reads I didn't mind setting down. The problem was I didn't really want to go back and pick it up. I finally made my way through this novel. I did find places where my attention was growing, but those ended up empty. I really wanted to love this novel. It just wasn't there for me. 

Our main character is in Paris with two friends, roommates. Jennifer, the main character, has known Patrick for about four years. They are close friends, not romantic, but seem to have a special kind of bond. Vonda is the friend who is much younger and isn't afraid to speak her mind. At first her character is strength and she has an attraction to see the city and experience all that it has. 

Tragedy happens. Paris is attacked. Jennifer is shot. Wounded and trying to make it to safety. Vonda gets to safety, but much happens before she is able to find a secure place. Patrick was to stay behind with other plans while the girls attended a concert. 

Now, before Jennifer had left for Paris she lived with her parents on and off for many years. She left the last time wanting to make it on her own so she didn't have to fall back on their dependence. Finding two roommates excited her.

Next in the story Jennifer is awaken in the hospital. She finds Patrick at her side. The story leads on with conversations between the two. Where is Vonda? She comes to the hospital days later giving Jennifer clothes and toiletries. She's had enough. She's going home. But Patrick remains. 

Through all this she finally gets a hold of her parents to let them know she's okay. She's been shot, but she's okay and will be leaving the hospital in a few days. They are so wanting to come help. I can imagine how they are feeling, but Jennifer has a strange attitude toward them and that I found really odd. They of course are worried sick. They want to come and get her. She refuses their help. She says that Patrick if with her and will take care of her. 

She leaves the hospital and finds herself in Patrick's apartment. He isn't home, but soon arrives. They have conversations. He's begging her to stay. She wants to return home. He convinces her to stay with him. They decide to travel the country and find a B&B. These people who own the B&B are super kind and carrying. 

So, come to find out, yes, she has been in shock, and has had little money. How did she travel all this way? She isn't with Patrick at all. She is traveling alone. So many questions. But through the help of this couple they are going to help her search for this document and translate it. 

Are you ready? Patrick is dead. He was killed at the concert. He had changed his plans and was coming to attend. Jennifer has been suffering from PTSD and her brain has refused to see reality. Remember that Vonda was shy of being at the hospital and then didn't want to remain in Paris? Well, before Vonda could make it to safety she found Patrick. This strong and resilient girl is suffering too, but she sees reality. She wants to escape this place that brought such devastation

With all that said. I simply didn't feel the emotion of Jennifer's pain. As the story concludes I have no idea if she came to faith, knowing Christ as her Savior. This novel had great potential. But something was lost for me. Something missing. 

I am so sorry to give so much of the story away. Once Jennifer realizes that Patrick is gone she gathers the strength to carry on her mission of seeking the meaning of this document. She learns that the Huguenots carried great faith, but in that faith they had many choices to make that would be life or death. If they chose to say they loved Jesus they would be killed. If they chose to denounce their faith they could live. Many chose to denounce. I did enjoy how the document showed they battled flesh and faith, as they faced horrific times of injustice. 

Jennifer and those now helping her uncovered all of this information so very quickly. This is something I would expect to take quite a long time. Research for such things isn't uncovered so easily.

And then there's getting in Patrick's car, going to the apartment, gathering items, and traveling far from Paris, finding a B&B, doing so much, but not being in reality at all. That is just, well, a lot to believe that at some point she didn't have a break through and see some piece of reality. 

It seems I read so much of the story believing that Patrick was with her and was going to take care of her and then I find out he has died in the attack. I don't know. There was a lot of space for me that needed more details, more story, more Vonda. She was an interesting character that left the story quite early, until she and Jennifer finally speak again where she shares the depth of her anguish and why she wanted to return home so quickly. 

It just wasn't my kind of an afternoon unputdownable. It is my hope that you pick up this novel and find it amazing. Maybe I can come back and read it later at another time and will find it complete and be able to walk away with a blessing of some sort.  Maybe then I'll be able to change my review and share just why I loved it. 

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.

Michele Phoenix Born in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michele Phoenix is a consultant, writer, and speaker with a heart for Third Culture Kids. She taught for twenty years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own advocacy venture under Global Outreach Mission. Michele travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, Marvel movies, and paths to healing. 


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