Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope by Rhonda Riley

This book literally knocked me off my socks.It is a powerful, unique book with a feel of the otherworldly and it is that last aspect of this book that would normally have seen me put it down and not pick it up again, however in this case I couldn't put it down because I was so engaged that I simply had to see what happened next, I fell so in love with the characters that I couldn't let them go.
Beginning towards the end of WWII and set in the farm lands of North Carolina, Evelyn Roe , the books central character has her life transformed when she digs a stranger out of damaged land, the badly injured stranger heals rapidly and transforms into Evelyn's doppelgänger and then into a man named Adam Hope, implausible indeed and normally at this point I would have said farewell to the book but I didn't and I am so glad that I was invested enough to keep going because the love story and journey that resulted won't leave me in along while.
Too tell you more would spoil your experience but I do need to tell you that the journey the author takes you on while unorthodox to say the least is one that is very human with characters that grow before your eyes, there are secrets, there are twists and turns, there is pain, there is misunderstanding, there is empathy and there is healing.
The language the author uses paints a vivid portrait even of the simplest things, the area of North Carolina and Florida where the story is set could be as familiar as your home town, that is how brilliantly Reilly's descriptions are, she brings it alive before your eyes, not bad if you know these areas but when you live 12,000 miles away as I do it is no mean achievement.
The other outstanding characteristic of the book for me was how the author understood the humanity of her characters and while keeping them solid she allowed the uniqueness that they possessed to unfold and take root, while equally acknowledging the right of other characters to be turned right off by these traits and others to simply turn a blind eye she opened up the readers experience and got me questioning what my response would have been. It almost felt that the author was putting out to her readers a challenge...what is our reaction to difference in our peer group and while Evelyn and Adams difference are unlikely to hit us, difference does on an almost daily basis enter our lives.
A wonderful story told hauntingly and with dignity, there is humor a plenty and and a few tears as well, for a first book this is a remarkable effort.
My copy came from Unity Books in Auckland, this book is also available through the Library System.

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