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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Cross Currents" by John Shors ~ Ko Phi Phi in Resurrection

Published by:  New American Library~Penguin Group
Pages:  317
Genre:  Fiction

Summary :

Thailand's pristine Ko Phi Phi island attracts tourists from around the world. There, struggling to make ends meet, small-resort owners Lek and Sarai are happy to give an American named Patch room and board in exchange for his help. But when Patch's brother, Ryan, arrives, accompanied by his girlfriend, Brooke, Lek learns that Patch is running from the law, and his presence puts Lek's family at risk. Meanwhile, Brooke begins to doubt her love for Ryan while her feelings for Patch blossom.
In a landscape where nature's bounty seems endless, these two families are swept up in an approaching cataclysm that will require all their strength of heart and soul to survive...
In This Book :
I'm a long-time fan of John Shors, having jumped head first on his fan-wagon when I cracked the opening pages of "The Marble Sky."  I had never read anything quite like that novel.  It was simply spectacular and I recommend it to everyone. Since that novel, Shors has continued to produce incredibly stellar work; most recently the slightly heartbreaking and amazingly soulful "The Dragon House" about a children's shelter in Viet Nam. (I reviewed it here last year)
My expectations, then were very high for "Cross Currents."  So when it was a bit slow in the uptake for John's usual book it was frightening for someone who loves his work like I do. There was too much information about the children of the Thai family on which the novel focuses for me.  I didn't really care about the minute details of the family's day-to-day activities.  I was ready for the "Shor Show" that I knew he was able to produce!!  I nearly put the book down and wondered what happened to --why was this novel so different?
What happened was what happens to all good fans of a favorite author:  I refused to give up on the novel.  I kept picking it back up and I kept reading.  Soon the story began to really develop the American character, Patch, giving him a depth of angst, heart and unselfishness. When his brother and girlfriend come to Thailand's island of Ko Phi Phi to see him; and Ryan wants to convince Patch to take a difficult, untenable turn in his life, the plot really heats up.  Suddenly, this book was reading like a true Shors novel!
I relay all of this to you simply to let you know that this may be a novel you'll have to give a chance.  It's a wonderful story.  What John was doing in the beginning was causing us to get to know the local family that his American protagonist came to love.  He wanted us to understand the character and culture of the island people whose lives were destroyed in the Ko Phi Phi tsunami. In "Cross Currents" there are characters you'll fall in love with who have  depth of feeling and intensity of humanity. 
When the tragedy of the tsunami devastates Ko Phi Phi you'll be crushed in the throes of the ocean  with a horror only akin to that that must have been felt by those trapped on the island that day.  I could not believe how vividly Shors showed me those moments!  I could see it so clearly and winced with sympathetic agony when his characters were torn and thrown in the impossible turbulence.
This is a powerful story full of the passion of human kindness, true love and personal sacrifice.  This is a real John Shors novel.  I'm happy to recommend it to you as strongly as I do his other books.
5 stars for life!


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