The Parting Gift by Rachel Van Dyken and Leah Sanders

Rated 4.00/5 based on 1 reviews
Blaine Graham lost his mother and grief drove a wedge between him and his father. Now Captain Graham finds himself flying commercial jets in Boston--until the day he receives a telegram from his dying father asking him to come home. More

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Review by: FictionBooks on March 20, 2012 :
The synergy and collaborative thinking between two independent authors, coming together to co-write something as difficult as the short novella, must be something very special.

Rachel and Leah have pulled this off spectacularly with ‘The Parting Gift’, to produce:- A compact novella which manages to incorporate a well-defined beginning, middle and end; an escapist and not too overly emotional read, which still manages to incorporate a serious message within its pages; a great story to curl up with of an evening and one which is comfortably readable in one or two sittings.

There are some great articles out there about the authors as individuals, however none of them discuss the complexities of writing as a couple, so if either Leah or Rachel happen to come across this post, I would invite them to leave a comment about this aspect of ‘The Parting Gift’, as an extra discussion point to the article, although I have discovered that Leah is responsible for the evocative and emotional prologue, which sets the scene so beautifully.

Once the correlation between the prologue and the main storyline was established (although I was left to speculate on what had ocurred in the intervening 15 year interval), the plot became obvious and transparent quite quickly, so that I knew exactly what the end-game was going to be. However the build-up and plot construction was well managed and orchestrated, and hung together well as a sequence of events that wasn’t too rushed or hurried, despite the book having such a modest number of pages.

The characters were complex yet strong, very well defined and all ‘grew’ into their individual roles nicely, as the story progressed. The changes that the characters brought to bear on one another, were wrought through determination, persistence and the underlying knowledge that through their individual grief and conflict, they were all starved of the ability to give and receive love. It would only be when they could all open their hearts and minds to one anothers inner emotional conflicts, that the healing process could begin and from there forgiveness and love would automatically follow.

Mara has suffered her share of loss and grief, although she deals with it in a much more controlled way than the two men seem able to, with her quiet faith and belief that love can bring about a change to the most broken heart and stubborn mind.

David acted with the best of intentions by trying to shield his son from the terrors of loss and bereavement at such a young age, but was so unable to come to terms with his own grief and devastation at being left alone, that he couldn’t see that Blaine was the lasting link to his deceased wife. Instead of nurturing and protecting this precious and lasting legacy, he only succeeds in pushing him away, to shield himself from both his own pain and the pleading he sees in his son’s eyes.

Blaine has never been able to forgive his father for what he sees as this complete and utter rejection, when all he ultimately sought was his father’s love and understanding. As a defence mechanism he then completely rejected his father, hardened his heart and built a tough and unbreakable shell around himself, which he allowed no-one to penetrate.

Three stubborn people, leading broken and damaged lives, who will ultimately only be reconciled by a life-changing set of circumstances, which they need to confront and deal with as individuals, before they are able to come together one last time. Fate will once again deal a blow that will re-shape their destiny, but their new found strength will be the bond that keeps them strong.

A character driven story, with a complex and difficult storyline, dealt with in a mature and sensitive narrative, that was touching and emotional, yet in no way left me feeling as though I had been preached to.
(reviewed long after purchase)

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