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The Space Between Words Paperback – September 5, 2017
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'Phoenix's powerful and compelling novel reflects how the past can give us hope for the future. A surprising plot twist adds a bittersweet flavor. Fluid writing and seamless transitions from history to the present make this the authorand rsquo;s best book yet.' (Library Journal, STARRED Review)
'Michele Phoenix beautifully entwines the lives of Jessica, a survivor of the 2015 Paris terror attacks, and Adeline, a victim of Protestant persecution in 17th-century France.' (BookPage)
'This amazing book will leave readers with a renewed appreciation for simple pleasures. The dual storylines will keep them glued to the pages.' (CBA Market)
'Several scenes in The Space Between Words will leave readers without words, the ability of speech replaced by the need to absorb all the feels. Humor and warmth mingle with gut punches of emotion and stunning revelations. The link between past and present is woven seamlessly into the fabric of the story, connected by a sewing box that soon becomes the center of a deeply poignant tale.' (RT Book Reviews 4 1/2 stars, TOP PICK)
About the Author
Born in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michèle Phoenix is a consultant, writer and speaker with a heart for Third Culture Kids. She taught for 20 years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own advocacy venture under Global Outreach Mission. Michèle travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, Marvel movies and paths to healing. Learn more at michelephoenix.com Twitter: @frenchphoenix
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There is so much depth and emotion to this book. Some surprises too. After the Paris attacks, Jessica deals with being a victim of the tragedy. Will she ever be able to face life with her once-bright outlook again?
Taking the trip she planned with her friend, she stumbles across a sewing case and the hidden pages within. Those pages lead her on a journey of discovery—not only about the woman who wrote them during Frances persecution of the Huguenots but also of herself.
When fear and PTSD strike, when her mind takes her back to the Bataclan where she hid from terrorists, when life becomes too overwhelming to face, Jessica’s friends surround her.
Read this one with a tissue box near but don’t miss out on this beautiful story of hope and living life after evil tries to steal it away.
I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
This book turned out to be a bit different from what I expected it would be, though not necessarily in a bad way. Originally, when I had read the synopsis of the book (which is what had prompted me to request it from NetGalley in the first place), I was expecting a dual timeline historical fiction novel with equal (or near equal) emphasis on both the historical and contemporary storyline, as this type of narrative structure seems to be the norm nowadays with this genre. Michele Phoenix’s The Space Between Words turned out to be a “different” type of book in that the story is actually a contemporary one, albeit with some historical elements woven in. The main narrative revolves around events that took place not too long ago (in 2015), with a small portion of the book jumping briefly back to a historical event that took place back in the 17th century.
The story takes place at the end of 2015, right after the horrific terrorist attacks on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris, France. The main character is thirty-four-year-old Jessica, who was in attendance at the concert along with one of her friends when gunfire erupted in the main chamber of the concert hall. Jessica endured injuries during the shooting and even though she survived and was physically on the path to recovery, the emotional wounds were far from healed. Wrestling with the emotional trauma from her ordeal and haunted by memories from that fateful day that she wanted desperately to forget, Jessica’s first instinct was to flee France as soon as possible. However, after some persuasive encouragement from her roommate and best friend Patrick, who had been steadfastly by her side the entire time, Jessica decides to take his advice and continue on with the treasure-hunting trip that the two of them had planned prior to the attack, in the hopes that it will help Jessica with her healing process. During the trip, Jessica discovers an antique sewing box with old documents inside, which she finds out upon having them translated that they date back to 1695 – pages written by a young French woman named Adeline during a time when the Huguenots in Catholic France were being persecuted for their religious beliefs. Seeking emotional healing from her own ordeal, Jessica is drawn to Adeline’s narrative and, along with the new friends she meets during her trip, she sets out on a journey to find out the rest of Adeline and her family’s story as they attempted to flee religious persecution in 17th century France.
I struggled a bit with how to rate this book, as I definitely enjoyed the story overall: the writing was excellent, the characters were likable, and the author did a good job weaving past and present events into the narrative. I especially liked how the history of the Huguenot persecution from the 17th century was presented in the form of Adeline’s story – this was a time period and event that I knew next to nothing about so I appreciated getting some exposure to that part of history in a way that was accessible but also heartfelt. The timeliness of the novel in taking on the Paris terrorist attacks and its aftermath also makes this a book that is necessary and should be read given the current situation not just in the U.S. but also around the world. With all that said however, there were definitely some issues with the plot – mainly the contemporary part about Jessica and her experience – that I found difficult to ignore and detracted from the story. Some parts of the plot felt a bit too “contrived” and at times, I found myself questioning the plausibility of some of the things that occurred. I also felt that some parts of the book came across a bit “preachy,” which I guess wasn’t too surprising given the religious context with the main events in the book (I found out later that this book is being marketed as Christian fiction, which, while it has no bearing on whether I would’ve read this book or not, since I read across genres and base my decision to read on the book’s synopsis as well as recommendations from friends, it did explain where the “preachiness” came from). Fortunately, the religious aspect wasn’t too overdone so I think those who aren’t interested in the religious part can still read and enjoy the story. On the positive side, there was a “twist” at some point in the narrative that was totally unexpected and I felt was done well. The “mystery” element with Jessica discovering bit by bit what eventually happened to Adeline’s family was also done well and for me, the history part was a huge redeeming factor for the flaws in the main narrative.
In the end, I decided on a rating of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4, as I felt the positives outweighed the negatives for the most part and the writing was truly very good, plus the story was engaging. I would definitely recommend this one for those who like contemporary stories with a historical element as well as a little mystery and romance thrown in. I would also recommend reading the final published version of the book rather than an advance copy, as the ARC I received was missing the Author’s Notes section. I’m a huge fan of Author’s Notes and actually feel this section is necessary (perhaps should even be mandatory) when the book deals with real life historical events. I will admit to being a little disappointed with the lack of Author’s Notes in my version, though not really a deal-breaker since I can borrow a final version later on and read the notes at that time.
Received ARC from Thomas Nelson / Harper Collins publishing via NetGalley
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Michele Phoenix has written a compelling, gentle and persuasive novel.Read more