Christina Berry is a name I will be searching for along the spines of many books to come! I just finished reading her debut novel, The Familiar Stranger, and I admit…I was intrigued the entire length of the novel! I’ll confess, I sort of guessed at a couple of parts in the story, and I guessed correctly, but the writing, the way she pulled you from one scenario to the next, well I just couldn’t put the book down!
Listen to this line, “I pictured my heart, a pea-sized pebble rolling around in the cavity of my chest.” (p. 16) Throughout this entire tale, Christiana Berry portrays the pain and angst of broken lives, broken spirits, broken bodies in a way that vividly displays the images into your heart and mind in unforgettable ways. She begins with the premise of a husband leaving his wife, but not in the way that you’d expect. Then she creates a scenario of a broken man returning to life with no memory of his prior existence. As the details unravel, one shock after another surfaces in the lives of Craig and Denise Littlejohn until you can’t imagine what will come up in the next chapter!
The great thing about all of this is that Christina Berry makes all of the details work. I mean, I actually understood why Denise did the things she did after Craig was injured. I understood what drew her to Samantha and why she was willing to shower such grace upon the life of a man who had done nothing but throw her away. In many ways, this is a sad story because it is a true reflection of the depravity that often exists within a marriage and the painful rending of family that takes place over time. More importantly, this story is a powerful reflection of grace from so many different perspectives that you can’t help but pause and consider relationships in your own life and wonder how you might be able to exhibit a little more Christ-like love yourself.
I thought the passage on pages 234 and 235 between Denise and Pastor Miles beautifully displayed the way Christ forgives our sins and how the marriage relationship is a reflection of that grace and mercy. As believers, we are all called to love and forgive others in a way unlike the rest of the world. Often the pain of that effort seems overwhelming. The Familiar Stranger is a story filled with twists and turns, unexpected outcomes and painful revelations, but all along the way it is a brilliant portrayal of grace.
Like I said, I will be looking forward to more stories from Christina Berry’s pen! The Familiar Stranger is a spectacular beginning!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: (from the author's blog)
Please come back tomorrow for an interview with this fabulous debut author!!