This is the second book I have read by Joana James. While it’s less perfect technically than Nightmare at Emerald High, it’s still a very moving, powerful story about the power of God and the prayers of the faithful.
Could anybody have more to overcome than Alana and Alyssa? You won’t know unless you read it for yourself. But what a powerful lesson Alyssa learns about what we can and can’t do to protect those we love. Sometimes even a second chance isn’t enough.
Only the greatest tragedy can sometimes shake us out of our reliance on what we have the power to do in our own strength. Realizing that we need help, accepting that help, and getting it from the Source of all true help, makes all the difference in what happens to these two sisters.
Eric is almost too good to be true, but he’s not an angel sent to escort Alyssa safely home. He’s a real person, and the only thing he wants is the truth. If Alyssa’s ready to face the truth herself, Eric will hang on for the emotional ups and downs of Alyssa’s life. It’s up to her.
I appreciated the author’s afterword explaining the terrible tragedy described in this book. It was jarring to me, but sometimes life will jar us out of our self-sufficiency. It’s something we have to accept, and this book is fundamentally about accepting help. Help from others, and help from God. In the end, Alyssa kept trying to help her sister Alana, never realizing how much she needed help herself, and what a terrible price she would have to pay before she was ready to accept that help.
Malcolm Drake has so much to bear as a sixteen year old high school student. His mother left for another man, taking all their savings. His father has worked long hours playing financial catch-up and been too weary to see his son grow up. Bullies force him to find a hiding place deep in the school’s basement to eat and study. Still, he’s managed to stay out of trouble and keep his grades high.
Malcolm has deeper issues in his past, however, that won’t leave him alone. Haunting dreams of relentless chases through the darkness leave him exhausted in the mornings. A visiting minister called out a prophecy about Malcolm when Malcolm didn’t even know God. Besides, he fled the church because his mother became involved with a deacon and choir director. Malcolm’s father also abandoned the scene of his heartbreak and humiliation. Church keeps pulling Malcolm back, though, and people are praying for him and his father even after ten years’ absence.
A chance for a scholarship pulls Malcolm into an elite science class. He feels strangely drawn to tell the youth pastor about this opportunity since his father is seldom home. Transcendental Meditation is one of the lighter items on the strange “science class” menu. Is it just ancient wisdom applied to solve today’s problems? Or did a chance scene of violent intimidation witnessed from Malcolm’s hiding place give him a hint about the real agenda of the scholarship committee?
This story gives one teenager a lot to deal with. But Malcolm’s not alone as he comes to grips with deciding what he has to do about all the pressure and danger in his life. He has a protection he doesn’t even know about. Because even when you think you’ve left God behind, you might just find that God’s people, and God Himself, still have your back.