Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Time to Mourn, A Time to Dance

I was immediately intrigued when I learned of another OakTara author, Keith McDonald, who has written about the topic of sex trafficking. His compelling novel, A Time to Mourn, A Time to Dance, is especially pertinent to me since my daughter, Stephanie, and husband, Matt, are training to minister to victims of the sex trade. Furthermore, Matt’s parents serve as missionaries in Cambodia, the setting for the story.

McDonald captured me from page one with his intricate and gentle description of Devi’s dance. He paints a picture of Cambodian village farm-life with richly meaningful and sweet family connections.

In stark contrast comes the fatal explosion only pages later that claims Devi’s hut, her father, and her dear Granny. On the prowl, Ban Rath, ruthless trafficker, is to blame. He wants beautiful Devi since she is prized as a Khmer dancer.

She and little brother, Rithy, now both orphaned, have no money and nowhere to go. Still, they flee to Tonle Sap Lake to escape Ban Rath. They long to reach Kompong Chhnang, home to the famous school of Khmer dance.

Enter reluctant Dr. Tom Whitby on route to Cambodia for six months to assist his father-in-law in treating iodine deficiency disorders at the urging of his wife, Jane.

MacDonald effectively builds tension and suspense as Devi and Rithy run for their lives. In the brother and sister interaction, he provides touches of humor and tugs at the heartstrings as the twosome scramble to survive.

I found my heart racing, caught up in the raw fear of their escape through the jungle while at the same time entering into their loving, protective bond as sister and brother. MacDonald keeps me on the edge of my seat with every twig snap and every new face. Is it Ban Rath?

A Time to Mourn, A Time to Dance is a page turner that awakened me to the treacherous history of Cambodia, the tragic trade of human beings, and the brave individuals who risk their lives to rescue victims and transport them to safety.

I highly recommend this thrilling and informative read, for the issue of sex trafficking not only impacts Southeast Asia, but America as well.

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