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The Feathered Bone
By Julie Cantrell
Published by Thomas Nelson
ISBN#978-718-027628
376 Pages

Back Cover: “Feathers—no matter what size or shape or color—are all the same, if you think about them. They’re soft. Delicate. But the secret thing about feathers is . . . they are very strong.”

In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth-grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace.

Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks into depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed.

Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss.

Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.

REVIEW: What happens when a child goes missing on a school field trip to New Orleans? This is every parent’s nightmare. The author shows how first responders and the community kick into action as they search for twelve year old Sarah.

The author says in notes to readers, “I was mesmerized by the story of Elizabeth Smart and her personal account of miracles and faith that kept her spiritually strong in the face of evil. Elizabeth, you inspire me and countless others. This story exists because of you.”

Sarah’s innocent voice and faith are heard in a journal she keeps, to help her cope and remember who she really is. Not Holly the name they call her and the things they make her do. She keeps telling herself, “You are worthy of being loved. You are worthy of being free.”

She sees a sparrow out her window that reminds her of a woman who spoke about feathers on her field trip. The woman said, “A feather may look weak. Vulnerable. But truth is, it’s a powerful little thing..The magical thing about feathers is…when they get to do what they’re made for, they carry a soul right up into the sky. Set it free…This feather will remind you that you are more than just a pretty girl. You are strong, a powerful soul. Do what you’re made for. Don’t believe the lies people tell you about yourself. Then you will be free too!”

There are inspiring tidbits like this about feathers, freedom, darkness and light with themes of faith and scriptures naturally woven into the story. Sara is an exceptional twelve year old girl that will not be defeated by her horrific situation. She’s reminded of her parents and their teachings. She shares some of them with her twenty three year old abductor, Bridgette. She talks about Adam and Eve and how God asked them to stay away from a tree and how they disobeyed. Sarah says, “God did teach them a lesson. God just wanted them to know that choices matter. That’s the point of the story” Sarah continues, “Even when we make really bad mistakes, we still have the choice to do better, it’s never too late.”…she looks at Bridgette (also a prisoner) , “It may take me a long, long, long, very long time, but you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to forgive you. And I’m going to forgive LeMoyne and even Boss. And all the men who visit. Forgive all of you…”Why, Bridgette asks.”

“Because; if I let go of all that hate. It’ll leave more room for love.”

Sarah isn’t the only one who is facing difficult times. Her best friend Ellie and her mother Amanda are rattled when they realize Sarah has gone missing on their watch. They both blame themselves for not keeping a close eye on her. Their lives start to unravel as the hours pass and Sarah is not found. Amanda has been called into help many families over the years to deal with abduction, domestic violence, and suicide. She knew how to respond and give hope in these situations. What she didn’t know was how bad the pain was and how quickly you become numb and detached from daily life.

The author says this in her notes to readers, “I am passionate about being the voice for the many women (and men) who endure emotional and/or physical abuse, for the sake of keeping a marriage/family together, or because they are too afraid/too in danger to escape safely or this abuse is all they know of love or because this is what they believe they deserve!”

A friend tells Amanda, “Normal people don’t try to hurt their wives. Normal people don’t destroy the ones they love. Nothing about your situation is normal.”

When didn’t Amanda’s life get so crazy? She knew how to recognize the signs. Why couldn’t she see it in her own life? She wrestles with the truth of her marriage in the middle of this unthinkable situation with Sarah.

Amanda was reminded of a bible lesson, “In the beginning, God made light. It was waiting on us when we arrived.” She looks at her daughter Ellie, “We weren’t brought into a world of darkness. Left to stumble around on our own. We were given a flame. One that would out last us all!

Sometimes we start to lose sight of it, don’t we? Times like tonight, it felt as if we were lost in the dark. Not a spark to be seen. But that’s how this great big world is designed, Ellie. It was made this way for a reason. Again and again we spin into darkness, but the sun is always there, waiting to rise again. It never leaves us. And if we can manage to hold on long enough to make it through the night, then we’ll be given a brand new day.”…”That’s what we have to remember. Light defeats darkness. Never the other way around.”

The author has readers visit rural Louisiana and New Orleans. The story takes place there and shows how people knew about the levies weakness. They never thought they’d break the way they did when hurricane Katrina hit. It shocked everyone. This event affects all the characters in the story as they keep searching for Sarah.

In the story mix are themes of faith, hope, love, endurance, domestic violence, suicide, kidnapping, sex trafficking and forgiveness. The author reminds readers we are loved (even when we are along and don’t feel it) we have worth (don’t believe the lies of this world) and light defeats darkness every time.

This was a tough read because of the many uncomfortable topics tackled (in a non-graphic way). This novel is worth your time. Golden moments and nuggets are intertwined throughout the good, bad and ugly in this slice of life sprinkled with huge amounts hope and faith as readers are reminded of God’s love even when the unthinkable happens.



ABOUT AUTHOR: New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, Julie Cantrell was the editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review. She has been a freelance writer for a decade and has contributed to more than a dozen books.

Julie's debut novel, Into the Free (David C Cook), earned a rare starred review by Publishers Weekly, became an international bestseller, and received two Christy Awards and the Mississippi Library Association Fiction Award. It spent three weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, made the USA TODAY Top 150, and was listed as a top read of the year by USA TODAY.

The sequel, When Mountains Move, received the ACFW Carol Award for Historical Fiction. A speech-language pathologist and literacy advocate, Julie was honored to receive the 2012 Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. Her third novel, The Feathered Bone, will release January 26, 2016 (Harper Collins Christian). It is set in Louisiana where Julie spent her childhood.

Julie and her family now live in Oxford, Mississippi where they operate Valley House Farm. Learn more:
Website:
www.juliecantrell.com
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/juliecantrellauthor
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/JulieCantrell

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Booklook blog site. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org 
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com 

Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com 

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