Bindings: Reflections on faith, life, and good books
5/18/12 at 12:18 AM 3 Comments

Facing our Fears: A Review of Distant Thunder

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In this expanded review that appears on Amazon.com., former Foreign Service Officer in the US Department of State turned novelist, Ann Gaylia O'Barr, incorporates her experiences and love for travel--especially train rides--into the engaging novel, Distant Thunder.

In a society that reveres youth arguably to a fault, Ms. O'Barr challenges that concept when her forty-something heroine Brooke Rohmer, confronts her fears through stepping out of the rush of our increasingly more technology-driven world to a quieter time. A time of train rides. Of interacting with people. And just maybe, a time of learning to love again.

Distant Thunder, like the world of trains, moves at a more leisurely pace. It explores characters' "inner-workings" while deftly weaving mystery, international intrigue--and a devastating secret--into the tapestry of an unforgettable love story.

Abandoned by her husband, Brooke takes a train trip to escape the suffocating confines of her job and the prospect of a promotion that she has come to re-think. She also ponders the "empty nest" as her son and only child, Daniel, enlists in the military. Will he be sent to combat duty, possibly in Afghanistan? Just as terrifying, she must face what she has previously ignored: the terra ignota of a midlife woman and the paucity of opportunities it proffers.

A cross-country train ride will give Brooke time to think, to reevaluate where she will go and what she will do with her life. The last thing she dreams of is finding new love.
Traveling the same AMTRAK as it snakes its way across the American landscape, however, is recent widower, U.S. diplomat Neal Hudson, who is waging inner battles of his own. As he mourns his wife's death in the Middle East, he also experiences searing guilt. Did a previous argument with her contribute to the accident that took her life? He also struggles with the haunting question, why was she in Beirut the morning she was killed, in the first place?

Although Brooke and Neal fall deeply in love with each other, each must overcome the emotional "baggage" of their previous lives as one crucial question haunts each. Is "love the second time around" worth the risk?

Ms. O'Barr's careful attention to detail places the reader "there", and the novel's characters are those with whom we can sympathize and identify as they battle their own personal demons.

So, with feet up and a cup of coffee just the way you like it, please enjoy a story that, as each of us travels time's continuum, gives much pause for thought. I trust that this story will resonate with you as much as it did with me.

KB Schaller, journalist, novelist, poet and conference speaker, is author of Gray Rainbow Journey (National Best Books Award Winner, USA Book News; Florida Publishers Association President's Best Books Award for YA Fiction); and Journey by the Sackcloth Moon (both OakTara). Her third novel in the series, Journey Through the Night's Door, is a work-in-progress. She lives in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area. www.KBSchaller.com

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