Friday, January 27, 2012

Review of "Beyond Molasses Creek" by Nicole Seitz

Rating: 5 Stars
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Synopsis from Thomas Neslon: Three lives are bound by a single book . . . and the cleansing waters of Molasses Creek.

Having traveled to the ends of the earth as a flight attendant, Ally Green has finally returned to the Lowcountry to bury her father as well as the past. But Vesey Washington is still living across the creek, and theirs is a complicated relationship--he was once her best friend . . . and also part of the reason she's stayed away so long. When Ally discovers a message her father left behind asking her to quit running, it seems her past isn't through with her yet.

As Ally's wandering spirit wrestles with a deep longing to flee again, a young woman on the other side of the world escapes her life of slavery in the rock quarries of Nepal. A mysterious sketchbook leads Sunila Kunari to believe there's more to her story than she's ever been told, and she's determined to follow the truth wherever it leads her.

A deep current intertwines the lives of these three souls, and a destiny of freedom, faith, and friendship awaits them all on the banks of Molasses Creek.

Review: Beyond Molasses Creek is an intriguing novel...from the cover and title to the plot within the pages.  I am drawn to books that merge a few stories into one, but sometimes the concept is better than the execution.  Beyond Molasses Creek is one of the successes.  Nicole Seitz achieves the ideal harmony in this tightly woven novel, which takes the reader from the shores of South Carolina to rock quarries of Nepal.  Although this is a quick read, it is memorable and filled with depth and character.

When I first began reading Beyond Molasses Creek, I was surprised to discover that Ally is a 60-year-old.  I am used to younger protagonists, but in many ways Ally is still a young woman searching for her place in the world, a quality that makes her relatable. Ally's character emerges gradually with each challenge and insight into her past. Vesey shines as a devoted friend, who is as steady and content as the water of Molasses Creek. He is an example not only to Ally, but to readers as well, of finding peace, purpose, and faith despite loss and disappointment.

Sunila's story, unfolding a world a way, is very moving and thought-provoking.  Reading about slavery, child labor, and a strict caste system makes me more grateful for the freedoms that I enjoy.  Captivity and social barriers are central themes of Beyond Molasses Creek, and each character confronts them in different ways. Sunila embodies the inspiring qualities of hope and courage.  I looked forward to the glimpses into her life and watching her story weave into Ally's.  I celebrated with them as their long journeys brought them to their long sought-after destination: peace and happiness.

Beyond Molasses Creek veers more to the side of mainstream fiction than Christian fiction.  I was initially surprised at the references to beliefs in multiple gods, enlightenment, and reincarnation.  Sunila's non-Christian beliefs are realistic, given that she lived in a stone quarry in Nepal without exposure to the outside world for over 30 years.  Ally is a free-spirit, whose beliefs are as diverse as her past.  Her Christian journey is just beginning at the end of the novel, as she acknowledges that she has "crossed over" in her beliefs, but still needs to grow. The novel is a journey to freedom, truth, and the promise of a brighter future.

Beyond Molasses Creek introduced me to the work of Nicole Seitz, and I definitely plan to read more of her novels in the future.

Read an Excerpt: 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” 

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