A white male reviews Welcome, Reluctant Stranger. That’s me, Rich Journey. I’m not a novel reader but some requests, you just can’t resist. I’m honest in my views but you may justly accuse me of a certain bias.
In Welcome Reluctant Stranger, Evy Journey 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. This is not the typical romance where a lovely damsel tingles and swoons for a man with broad shoulders and big pecs. Although I think Justin does have broad shoulders and big pecs. But Leilani is not the tingly swooning type. She’s a cautious, straight-laced psychologist.
There is an intimate bedroom scene, but the emphasis is on relationships. Struggles to come into being, going through trials, and growing. I confess I like a rougher picture of our dealings with each other. For instance, when Leilani’s mother takes an immediate dislike to a potential son-in-law, of another race, another culture. It shows a culture clash. Makes us chuckle a little, but also makes us uncomfortable.
You the reader will be tested. Will you empathize with a Pacific Islander woman coming into your culture, taking a white man?
The book is also a political thriller. There’s international intrigue, suspense, and corruption. I enjoy the tension—can you trust foreign agents to help release a loved one imprisoned in a third world country? You get a romance 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 father. I feel the conflicting emotions when Leilani flies back to her motherland in poignant search of her past. She still loves that past, despite its corruption and venality, despite its dangers. We’re in suspense at how the search will turn out
I also read the first two novels of this trilogy. Those characters come back to us, provoking memories, recalling their stories. It’s a little like the Fellini movie, 8 1/2, in which all the characters in the final scene parade before the director.
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 when I read this novel. Intriguing and timely, especially with questions of racism arising again to make us question our own values.
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