“Feathers—no matter what size or shape or color—are all the same, if you think about them. They’re soft. Delicate. But the secret thing about feathers is . . . they are very strong.” In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth-grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace. Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks into depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed. Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss. Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with the title of this book – The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell – but I took a chance anyway. The story still has me in shock so excuse me if this review is slightly garbled. The book held me from page one and is still resonating in my head.
This story takes place pre-Katrina, in New Orleans. Our main character is Amanda, whose daughter, Ellie’s best friend is Sarah. Amanda steps in as a chaperone on her daughter’s sixth-grade Halloween field trip to the Big Easy. When Sarah is abducted, Amanda is guilt-ridden because she feels that she was supposed to be the one watching Sarah when she disappeared and she feels responsible.
“We all have a feathered bone. It’s called hope. If we hang on to hope, if we don’t let anybody break us or make us forget who we are, then we will always be free.” Sarah
Woven throughout this book is Sarah’s side of the story, which is told through her journal entries written so she can remember who she really is. She addresses her entries to a sparrow that comes to her window to visit. In those writings, the reality of Sarah’s situation is is disclosed in a very sensitive way. The lessons that her parents taught her before her abduction allow her to stay remind herself of truth. Sarah’s voice, through her journal entries, was full of simple, beautiful wisdom.
For me this novel shared a very dark story of mental health, abuse and sexual exploitation. It was really deep but does show readers that life doesn’t always go smooth and easy and that trials and fears attack us when we least expect them. Cantrell’s characters are real and complex, the story is layered and the themes difficult. Amanda was a completely believable character even when she couldn’t fix things. Sometimes her emotions were all over the place and the book overall is an emotional rollercoaster. I loved how faith played a big part for the characters too.
The details of each character’s storyline are so real that while reading, I almost felt like I was a part of the lives of these characters. This is one of those “hard to put down” kind of books, but when you finally do put the book down, you will continue to think about them all.
“It is written to remind us all that we are loved, we have worth, and we are never alone.” Julie Cantrell
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, Julie Cantrell was the editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review. She has been a freelance writer for a decade and has contributed to more than a dozen books.
Julie’s debut novel, Into the Free (David C Cook), earned a rare starred review by Publishers Weekly, became an international bestseller, and received two Christy Awards and the Mississippi Library Association Fiction Award. It spent three weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, made the USA TODAY Top 150, and was listed as a top read of the year by USA TODAY and LifeWay Christian Stores. The sequel, When Mountains Move, received the ACFW Carol Award for Historical Fiction and was again named a top read of the year by both USA TODAY and LifeWay Christian Stores.
A speech-language pathologist and literacy advocate, Julie was honored to receive the 2012 Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. Her third novel, The Feathered Bone, will release January 26, 2016 (Harper Collins Christian). It is set in Louisiana where Julie spent her childhood. Julie and her family now live in Oxford, Mississippi where they operate Valley House Farm. You find Julie Cantrell at her Official Website HERE.
I received a paperback copy of this book without cost from the publisher through The Fiction Guild, a Thomas Nelson/Zondervan book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.