Sharon describes her writing as “heart-of-the-matter fiction with a good dose of humor.” The humor in this case comes from the quirky voice of Aria Winters granddaughter of former-hippies-turned-Jesus-people krystal and blue karma. Ree, as she is called, grew up on the nut farm (walnuts, almonds, and pistachios, that is), and runs off to Moldova (check your map of Eastern Europe) to be a missionary.
A few weeks ago, I reviewed Jeanette Windle’s Congo Dawn. It deals with the “problem of pain” in the context of a thriller. Unraveled delves much more into the complex emotions of facing the reality of something you can’t fix. Or maybe it’s just that I identified more with Ree’s emotions more than I did Robin Duncan's since I have never been chased through the jungle by mercenaries or shot at by people I trusted.
Sitting on an airplane, struggling to hold back tears as I turned the pages, I had to ask myself why Unraveled was affecting me so deeply. Yes, the issue of child sex trade is horrific, but I’ve read books about that before. I eventually realized that I was pulling so hard for Ree because I have hurled the same angry arguments at God. I even made a list once of all the things I was mad at God about—everything from my little brother’s premature death to leaving Robert Mugabe in power to destroy the beautiful country of Zimbabwe. (He’s still there.) That was after I stopped apologizing to God and making excuses for my feelings—exactly like Ree does in Unraveled. Like Ree, I came very close to leaving the mission field, not because I didn’t believe in God, but because I did—and was mad at him for his seeming heartlessness! As Ree put it, I had "no intention of turning my face to the light [like the sunflowers of Moldova], only to get burnt." (p. 196)
A version of this review appeared on International Christian Fiction Writers yesterday along with an interview with Sharon and a chance to win a copy of the book by commenting. Believe me, you really do want this book, so come on over to ICFW to read more about the writing of Unraveled and leave your comment. (Comments are always welcome here, too, but I'm not giving away a free book this week. I want to keep mine. ;-)