A friend asked me to take a look at this book, a collaboration between two acquaintances of hers. I had talked to her briefly about self-publishing and some of the pitfalls I have discovered (by falling straight in, naturally…) and she thought I might have some useful hints to pass on to the authors.
The first impression is that they have done this job thoroughly. For one thing, I was lent a physical book – it’s a smart paperback, with an ISBN, reviews, a summary and a well-designed cover. These things may not sound extraordinary, but remember this book is produced by a two people who started their own press to produce their books. They haven’t fallen foul of any of the mistakes that first-timers often make.
My only complaint about the cover was that it didn’t quite match the type of story being told. From the hand beneath the water and the empty canoe, I assumed I was getting into a murder mystery, and that “Surfacing” might refer to the discovery of a drowned body. However, the actual tale has more to it than that.
Don was a firefighter, but an accident at work put him into a coma. For three years his wife Debbie has struggled to cope with raising their two children, maintain her house and job and she has gradually stopped visiting Don altogether. Then one day her son Jeremy finds his father’s ring in the waters of the lake where they have a cabin. Jeremy is determined that they should visit Don. The visit seems to be enough to bring Don to the brink of consciousness, and suddenly there is hope for the family that he will recover. The doctors are aided by Jeremy’s uncanny ability to “hear” what his father is feeling or thinking, and Don’s recovery goes from unlikely to inevitable.
On the surface, that sounds like a medical drama, or perhaps a romance, as Debbie has to learn to live with the man she lost, and Don has to come to terms with his family spending three years without him. This aspect of the story is tough to read but was rendered realistically – my wife worked for a while with members of the armed forces who had been on detachment – away from home for three to six months. Time and again their families would arrange big parties, or celebrations for their return, and within days the couples would be separating, unable to live together. When there is a prolonged absence, both sides come to adapt to the new life, and coming back together takes time and understanding on both sides.
However, there’s another string to the story – a worker at the hospital where Don is recovering decides he won’t stand by and allow the happy reunion of Don and his family. Using various methods, he causes suspicion and mistrust to flower between Don and Debbie, doing all he can to damage the family.
The book has a decidedly spiritual aspect, and though I wouldn’t classify it as “Christian Fiction”, the characters certainly ascribe certain events to celestial help – Jeremy receives messages from his dead Grandfather that help him save his father. In a world that makes a bestseller of a book about a love triangle between a human, a vampire and werewolf, I don’t think this is such a stretch.
Although it wasn’t a book I would have picked for myself (my reading tastes, as you may have seen from my monthly round-ups, are more lightweight in general) I enjoyed the story. I was particularly pleased that all the threads of the story came together in time for the conclusion.
I’ve heard that the authors may be working on individual projects next, before returning to work together on another book. I wish them all the best, and recommend taking a look at this book if you get the chance. Find it on Amazon HERE