Friday, July 19, 2013

A Last Day at the Beach

You and I both know that day is coming--the last day sitting with the waves' ebb and flow; the last evening watching fireflies from the backyard swing; the last morning drinking a steaming cup of cocoa from a front porch rocking chair in the mountains.

Summer will soon be at an end, causing this mother to look once more at that summer "to do" list taped to the side of the computer monitor.  Just a glance from the list to the wall calendar is enough to make me flustered and go into supermom mode, which, honestly, isn't good for anybody, not the kids and definitely not me.

Even for a (sometimes) super-mom-wanna-be, my heart knows it is best is to not try and squeeze everything into a twenty-one day span but rather, to reevaluate the list and decide what really matters.  Will the world come to an end if I don't get those t-shirts painted or the old home movie DVDs converted to computer files before August 9?  What if I only get my son to memorize a little over one third versus half of the first grade spelling words I had set as our goal? 

What then?

I'll tell you exactly what I did this past week--I busied myself with a few items that I determined were "must do."  Then, I simply relabeled my "Summer To-Do" list my "Autumn To-Do" list, snuggled down on the sofa with a purring, old Balinese cat asleep on my stomach, and read a book while the children spent their free time making animal tracks from rain puddles on the porch and drawing on a large, cardboard box with markers.

Don Hoesel's newest Blood and Bone is a long-awaited sequel to Elisha's Bones.  Yes, I stand by this "sequel" statement, knowing full well the author published a novel, The Serpent of Moses, in between the two.

In the 2009 Elisha's Bones, archaeologist Jack Hawthorne crosses the globe in search of the bones of the prophet Elisha, which supposedly are imbued with the power to heal.  As is typical of the suspense genre, Jack and his fiery sidekick Esperanza (a linguist well-versed in seemingly all of the ancient languages) spend their time finding and solving clues, going further and further down the rabbit hole with each passing page.

At the end of Hoesel's first novel in the Hawthorne series, the characters find and then re-hide the bones, believing that their power is too great to be entrusted to any man or organization.

After a weak second novel in 2012 that had a fabulous premise but then plodded almost backwards through the pages only to fall flat at the end, this third novel takes readers where they expected Hoesel to go in The Serpent of Moses--on a search to recover the bones of Elisha, which (surprise!) have gone missing.

In Blood and Bone, Jack Hawthorne and Esperanza are now much older, married, and have settled down with their two children into the sedentary life of academia.  When their children are threatened by a CIA agent bent on possessing the bones, himself, the two must reach out to their old contacts once more.  The rest is a suspenseful race to avoid being murdered by one of three different organizations as Jack and Espy trace the clues to discover who in the ancient organization they crossed years ago now is the caretaker of the bones.

In all honesty, after reading the popular Dan Brown's page turners, Don Hoesel's text seems a bit slow, and the ending was so predictable that I spotted it by the end of the first chapter.  At the risk of spoiling it for you, all I'll say is Hoesel's ending would have been more radical and surprising had he chosen to not have the bones work their magic once more.  

With that said, Hoesel's characters give the reader something Dan Brown doesn't--prayer and genuine faith in God, although without intrusively beating you over the head with Christianity every other sentence as some authors do.  And honestly, that small bit of true faith in God counts for a lot.  Brown's novels always seem to end up at the same place--a quiet space of inquiry where truth is mixed up seamlessly with untruth, where Christianity is intimated to be no different than Buddhism or Islam or any other religion such that if one isn't careful and doesn't know his Bible very well, it is easy to be convinced Brown's view of God, man, and religion just might be correct.

Don Hoesel's novels don't have that problem, making them a good, easy read for both adults and young adults.  And although the three are part of a series, but they can clearly stand alone without your having to read the other two previous ones. 

It's a good way to end a summer--relaxing with a good book, not stressing out over what we didn't quite get around to doing.

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