We first meet the widow Gabriela atop a cliff, overlooking the ocean. And we’re not sure if she’s going to throw herself over or not.
After the death of her husband, Nicolas, Gabriela returns to her native home on coastal Mexico with her 10-year-old son, Sammy. Left mysteriously by her parents when she was a young girl, she was raised by an aunt. She fights against depression, the aching loss she feels from her husband’s death, and God – most of all, against God. If he exists, all he has ever given her is loss, pain and misery.
And now it seems God wants Sammy, who’s showing an interest in things of faith. And Gabriella is determined not to let that happen.
That’s the heart of April Geremia’s The Fragrance of Surrender, a novel that is the first in her “Souls of the Sea” series (the second, A Leap of Faith, is scheduled for May of 2016). But Geremia takes her story a step farther, and intertwines it with secrets from the past. Why did Gabriela’s parents suddenly abandon her and disappear? Why have so many of the men in the village gone missing?
The two stories – Gabriela’s battle against faith while her son embraces it and the village mystery – develop together so quickly that this is a book difficult to put down. We want to find out what has been happening in the village, what happened to Gabriela’s parents, and if Gabriela will win her fight against God. And Geremia uses well-developed secondary characters – Gabriela’s foreman and his wife, Raul and Mona, and a local evangelist named the Preacher – to help propel the stories forward.
Faith is a messy business, as Gabriela and her son discover. It often means sacrifices, and it can mean pain. But, as Gabriela learns, it always involves a choice.
Photograph by Jameela Ho via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.