This is my honest review of Welcome, Reluctant Stranger! which I have been requested to read.
Ejourney explores themes of living in two cultures. The multicultural experience is usually not treated by novelists. In her series of three novels, Between Two Worlds, EJ shows off her style of literary romance, not of the more typical romances where lovely damsels tingle and swoon continuously for broad shouldered men with big pecs.
There is an intimate bedroom scene, but most of the emphasis is on relationships, struggling to come into being, going through trials, and growing. I confess I like a rougher picture of our dealings with each other, as when the mother of our heroine takes an immediate dislike to a potential son-in-law, of another race, another culture. It shows here some differences of culture. It makes us chuckle a little, but it also makes us a little uncomfortable.
You the reader will be tested. Will you be able to empathize with a Pacific Islander woman coming into a different culture?
The book is also a political thriller with international intrigue, suspense, and depictions of corruption. I enjoy feeling the tension of whether to trust certain foreign agents in procuring a possible release of a loved one imprisoned in a third world country. The romance is enriched with exciting elements of danger and intrigue.
I admit getting moist eyes reading about the telephone call between the daughter and the long lost imprisoned father. I felt the conflicting emotions when Leilani flies back to one’s motherland in a desperate search to recover the past. One still loves that past, despite its corruption and venality, despite its dangers. EJourney holds us in a suspense of how the search will turn out
I also read the first two novels of this trilogy. Those characters spanning different histories, cultures, and times come back to us one by one. They provoke memories, recollections of their lives in the previous two books. This reminds me of the Fellini movie, 8 1/2, in which all the characters in the final scene parade before the director. This author parades and brings these earlier characters back to life.
What did TS Eliot say?
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
Those lines came back to me when I read this novel. Intriguing and timely, especially with questions of racism arising again to make us question our own values.