I didn't expect much when I started this book, but after several pages, I couldn't put it down! It was beautifully written and still lingers with me months after finishing it. A wonderful story.
I found the theme of this 2004 first novel by John Dalton particularly unique because I seemed to develop understanding and insight along with the main character, Vincent, an upright, righteous and terribly naÃ¯ve young Midwestern American missionary. He tries; he really does, to bring the word of Jesus to the people. But that doesn't really work as he, himself, gets drawn into the culture, begins to change and open up in new and unexpected, ways. Then, a wealthy Chinese businessman offers Vincent money to go to mainland China, take part in a counterfeit marriage, and bring the young woman back to Taiwan.
During the trip to China, Vincent quickly learns that he is not in Kansas anymore. Everything is harsh and unpredictable. And he is forced to question every single preconceived notion he has ever had. This trip is fascinating and somewhat disturbing. The Chinese characters are complex and real. He slowly sees the thin line of trust erode.
And then, just when I thought I had the book all figured out, there is a shift, and the story turns from rather sad to one of joy. By the end of the book, I was smiling.
This book takes some careful reading because it is very detailed, but the writing is lyrical and well thought out. The characters became very real to me, and the plot developed into one that kept me reading.
A wonderful first book from this author.