Erin Healy's writing is incredible. I could go on an on about it.
It is dream-like, lucid and urgent, so that I saw and felt what was happening.
It is also observant writing. Two men shoving their way through a room are described as clumsy, and then the narrator adds: "Or not clumsy, just free of all respect for anything outside their own skin."
Notice how she gave us a glimpse into their psyche gleaned from their actions?
And another line that paints a picture: "The afternoon sun cut through her jacket at a comforting angle."
I love that... the shafts of sunlight falling over me and warming me.
Erin Healy uses words like each one is a jewel that deserves the best setting and arrangement possible, and each paragraph is crafted and centered to enhance the beauty of the whole story.
You get the feeling that she loves working with language.
The character building in Stranger Things is top-notch. Erin introduces us to the men and women who live this story in the present day, and she goes back into the past and shows us flashes of their lives.
There is Amber, a young woman who lived the horror of sex trafficking and was rescued by her older brother. Now Amber and Christopher, and his friends William and Kaleo, dedicate every resource they can spare to operating Fire Followers, which is a ministry to women in sex slavery.
The name comes from the beautiful plants that resurrect shortly after a devastating wildfire. Those Fire Followers are especially lovely because they rise out of scorched ground when all seems hopeless.
And that is Christopher's all-consuming passion: To see every abused woman- faceless, voiceless, nameless- to see each of them as a whole and restored and truly alive individual.
Enter Serena, biology teacher. Her parents also run a rescue mission, and she has been aware of exploitation's ugly face since she was a child.
It makes no sense when a bright-and-rebellious student accused her of sexually exploiting him.
In one felled swoop, her orderly life has been ripped out of her hands.
How do the threads connect? That's where Erin gives us a full-fledged mystery. 349 excellent pages worth of mystery, while your brain races to figure out what is real.
Keep in mind what Serena's father says: "Reality is both more and less than it seems."
Stranger Things isn't only a wonderful, enthralling novel. It also points another beam of light at the evil crouching in the corners of our world. Sex-slavery seems so distant and so seamy that it doesn't concern us, but it does. Oh, it does. As Christopher learned, more and more American girls are being lured into sex trafficking not out of abject physical poverty, but out of emotional and relational lack. They're looking for love, and a "groomer" offers them affection, care, and a shoulder to lean on. Next moment, they're gone.
Please keep the vulnerable girls in your prayers, as well
Thank you Booksneeze for my review copy. This was my first Erin Healy novel, and I am moving her others up to the top of my TBR list.
What a joy to discover them!
Erin Healy is a supernatural-suspense novelist and an award-winning fiction editor. She began working with Ted Dekker in 2002 and edited twelve of his heart-pounding stories before their collaboration on KISS, the first novel to seat her on "the other side of the desk."
Erin is the owner of WordWright Editorial Services, a consulting firm specializing in fiction book development. She lives with her family in Colorado.