Friday, September 25, 2009
Christina Berry's the Familiar Stranger ~ Reviewed
by Christina Berry
Published by Moody Publishers
A fresh start or a double-cross? Why is Craig so cold and distant? Denise wonders. Is it his job? The family? Or is it me? Though she’s poured her heart into her marriage, years of enduring his long hours, frequent times away, and short temper have left her with a deep sadness.
Then one morning in the middle of church her cell phone rings. Embarrassed, she heads to the lobby, takes the call...and is shocked by the news she hears. Craig’s been in an accident.
So begins their fresh start. While keeping vigil by his bedside she wills herself to make their marriage work, whatever the cost. And when Craig finally regains consciousness, he appears to want the same thing - except for one detail. He doesn’t know who she is.
Nor does he remember anything about their life, their children, or why he was parked on the side of the freeway when the accident occurred. As he struggles to recall the past, he also shows a new love for Denise characterized by tender strength and consideration. So what is she to do when ugly betrayals emerge? Is it possible to forgive a man who thoroughly violated her trust? How many more lies and secrets are yet to be discovered?
And then, without warning, his memories come flooding back...
2009 has been a year of some wonderful debut novels, and Christina Berry has penned one of the best. A work of contemporary fiction, The Familiar Stranger’s complex plot is filled with the twists and red herrings of an Agatha Christie mystery. The answer came so far out of left field, Agatha wouldn’t have predicted it. Engaging characters, cunning, and quicksilver emotions add up to a story that held me hostage, spellbound to the end. Novel Reviews and I give it our highest recommendation.
Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan
I’m so thankful I received this book as a gift. Christina grabbed my attention on the very first page. I read this book in one day! I was drawn into the characters and their situation hook, line and sinker. Christina Berry starts out the first chapter in the point of view of Craig Littleton, Denise’s husband. In the next chapter, Christina describes the very same scene from Denise’s point of view. This added such richness to the story, knowing each person feelings, what they were really communicating when they talked to one other, and how each viewed their marriage situation. I love it. It brought depth to this heart felt, touching story, where I sympathized with the characters and the dilemma’s they faced.
After a serious accident, Denise discovers unbelievable things about her husband. Can all these things be true? Married twenty years, how could she not have known any of this?
God was asking the impossible from Denise. Her Pastor asked her these three questions. “1. Are you angry? 2. Do you love him? 3. The hardest. Are you going to forgive him?"
Denise responds, "Forgive him again, you mean. How can I?”
I was fascinated and intrigued by this unforgettable story of deceit, betrayal, forgiveness and true love. I couldn’t put it down. I can’t believe this is Christina Berry’s first novel. She's an author to watch; I can’t wait to see what she writes about next. You’ll be wondering too.
Finding Hope Through Fiction
The characters and the drama of a marriage-on-the brink pulled me into this story immediately. Good writing and a twisting, intriguing plot line kept me turning pages. Though not perfect this is a terrific debut novel. Some pacing issues and some slight characterization quirks caused me to pause a bit. I also didn't find the details of some aspects of the story to be completely believable, there are some "but" moments.
Denise and Craig are in a cold war. Their marriage has degenerated to the point that polite, simple sentences are the only safe communication. The reasons that this relationship is so strained becomes apparent as the story unfolds.
The story begins as Craig is preparing to do something permanent to take care of this situation. But there is an accident. Then Craig wakes up with amnesia. Yes. I know, very soap opera...but by this point I was invested in the story and the writing. Denise and Craig discover that the puzzle pieces don't fall into place at all. As a matter of fact there seems to be a never ending pile of puzzle pieces. The story twists and turns from there.
There is a pretty strong faith element within the book.
By the time the novel resolved I was satisfied. I will be eager to read the next book Berry cooks up.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer