Corina Marion’s father is dead.
Off to a never-ending war as a Red Cross doctor before Corina was even born, Luther Marion has been a constant but increasingly distant presence in his daughter’s life for sixteen years. Damaged pictures. Short letters. And three brief phone calls received before Corina was old enough to walk.
Now, Luther Marion has returned home at last—as a body in a box to be buried. Corina’s mother is devastated. Her small, backwoods town mourns the loss of its local hero.
And Corina…isn’t sure how she feels about the death of a father she never really met.
But when a mysterious old man confronts Corina at her father’s funeral, she finds herself drawn to his impossible offer: a chance to know the late Luther Marion. And in a moment of uncertainty, Corina makes a choice with consequences she can barely fathom. A choice that sends her to the last place she ever expected to go.
Her father’s hometown. Six hundred miles south.
And twenty-five years in the past.
The author provided me with an ARC of the novel in exchange for an honest review.
There are times, when you read a book, that reaches inside you and pulls at your inside, twists them and leaves you feeling same on the outside, yet everything changed on the inside.
This book was that book for me.
I requested to review this novel on GoodReads because well the blurb stuck a chord with me, even though I didn’t realise it at the time. You’ll realise why when you read this review, or better yet, this book!
The journey I went on, while reading this book was a roller coaster ride. I was was honestly expecting this to be a typical time travel book, though in retrospect I wonder why was I so near sighted?
Because this book was so much more! Because this book was not just about the journey of a daughter to understand the man who was her father, yet was hero to the world. This was also about the journey of a boy into a man. It was the understanding of a boy who grew up with ideals to the man who felt the need to protect the world in any way he could.
This novel strikes at the heart of every child’s thought – How is my father the way he is today? What made my father to be the kind of man that he is today? Why did he make the decisions he did?
This story is about a girl who gets a chance to find answers. Answers about a father she has never known, a father she has hated for all her life, just to understand the choices he made.
The story starts off with Corina fighting two bullies, not for herself, not for fun, but to protect her friend. The way the author introduces Corina, is quite an interesting choice. Because it’s only later on in the story you realise that that introduction tells a lot.
It’s the year 2026 and a war in Asia has been going on for 16 years. And Corina’s father, Luther had been a part of the war as Red Cross Volunteer since before she was born. (A Little background: China refuse to adhere to the World Order and even missionaries were considered ‘fair game’ if they ‘interfered’ in the matters of state. Can I just say how plausible I found this tidbit? Not the China part, but that any superpower could do that!).
She has not known her father herself, only through few cheerful letters sent sporadically and the stories of the ‘hero’ her small town remembered. The day she fights the bullies, is the day she and her mother get the news that her father has died of starvation as a POW in China.
Understandably, she is a little more than pissed at him for ‘choosing the war’ over her and her mother while giving her mother false hope of getting back home safe and sound.
So when an old man starts following her around and watching her, she assumes that either she is being haunted or being stalked by a creepy old man, on top of being asked to mourn a father she believes is attention seeking prick.
Everything comes to head, when she is given a chance to know her father, by the same creepy old man, she jumps on the chance. (Funnily enough, she is actually was quite amenable to the idea, without a hint of fear. I liked her even more for it <3)
She is thrust into her father’s timeline, not once, not twice, but three times. While this happens on a space of one night (my approximation) for her, years have passed for Lu, her father, between each visit. All this to understand, the boy who had been, the man he became and the man who died.
You would think, with her snarkiness, and her cold shoulder attitude, Corina would be hard to like. That with her skewed perceptions of a father she had never known (Don’t judge just by what you see? Right?), she would be irritating and come off as a stubborn whiny little girl, but she doesn’t.
Her feelings and thoughts are as real to me as mine are. Her anger at her father whom she believes left her, is as wounding to me as if mine had. Her interactions with a father are absolutely adorable, just like that of a brother with a sister (which for him would be normal, because she didn’t even exist as thought the first two times!).
As for Lu, we see him grow and see the influence his ‘daughter’ has on his life and his decisions. (Irony at it’s best!). We see him grow from an idealistic young man to a cynical doctor to a hero and that growth just takes your breath away! We understand his decisions and his fascination and courageousness at the face of tragedy.
Every single time, Corina met Lu, they battled for their lives along with others around. If it wasn’t a blazing inferno, then it was a hostage situation, last but not the least, it was in the middle of a war.
Corina and Lu behaved courageously in every single situation. You would think their actions would be incredible and fantastical, but all I could think when I was reading about it was ‘I hope that if I am ever in such a situation, I could be half as awesome as they were!’
But it was only at the last leg of their journey that both father and daughter really connected. It was only when they realised the mistakes each of them made that they realized they weren’t truly different after all.
Was it any wonder that I bawled my eyes out (at work, no less) when I came to the same understanding of her father as Corina did;
“What makes him a hero isn’t that he came here. Isn’t that he’s saved lives here. Isn’t that he will die here, fighting for a good cause.
It’s that he came here knowing there was little he could do but was willing to do that little anyway. Because that little meant saving lives that would otherwise be lost.
Lives no one else was willing to save.”
Maybe this novel wouldn’t resound to others the same way it did to me. But that’s okay. Because I know that this story, the message in it, will resound in your head anyways. Haven’t you wondered why do people give their lives to save others? Haven’t you wondered why people have those bursts of courageous acts for people they don’t know and just might never meet again?
What Lu says, just might give you another perspective:
“It’s one thing to help a person who might be helped anyways, by someone else equally capable as you. It’s another to help a person who would die without your help.”
The author has written a story that has captivated me from the start, making me laugh and snort at Corina’s sassy sarcasm while making me slowly admire Lu’s tenacity to do good for those who don’t have a lot of good coming for them. The writing style itself is a beauty and it grips you when you believe that you can’t get more invested in the story and the characters.
I can’t wait to read more from this author, because this book definitely made to the list of my favourites!
4.5 / 5 Stars
(Gets extra points for being able to make me cry at work :P)
I would recommend this book for every single one of you, cause as Corina finally understands (and I paraphrase here) – Our problems don’t require a world breaking shift in time. It required nothing more than a little perspective. You won’t regret reading this one. I promise.