Stranger Things – Erin Healy

Stranger Things Erin Healy
Stranger Things by Erin Healy
Published by Thomas Nelson on December 2013
Genres: Christian, Fiction, Suspense
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four-stars

Serena’s career as a high school biology teacher ends just as it’s beginning, when an angry student accuses her of unthinkable behavior. Stunned and suspended, Serena retreats to the forest where she usually finds privacy and beauty. But on this day she encounters something even more unexpected than the end of her dreams: a killer, his prisoner, and a stranger who dies to save Serena’s life.

Christopher has spent a decade rescuing girls from the underworld of sex trafficking—starting with his sister Amber. Their tiny nonprofit protects girls from seduction, but their hearts’ desire is to bring down John Roman, the powerful criminal who first took Amber and has ruined thousands of young women since.

When Christopher’s colleagues suspect Serena of being in league with Roman, her life spirals out of control. How will she clear her name? Why did a stranger protect her with his life? And what is the meaning of the visions she sees whenever she visits the gutted house where he died?

The answers lie with her enemies, and with all the imprisoned women whose names she doesn’t even know yet.

Stranger Things is a novel that invites readers to reconsider their perception of the world and the people who populate it, loved ones and strangers alike.

Serena Diaz used to be a schoolteacher.

That’s used to be, because she’s just been accused of sexual misconduct with a student. It doesn’t matter that she’s innocent, doesn’t matter that there’s little proof. The media will try and convict her on just the accusation. She’s told not to leave town, but she has to get away and clear her thoughts. A nice walk in the woods will do that.

Instead, it draws her deeper into the mystery. She happens upon a house in the woods. She knows this house, knows that it’s abandoned. But this time there’s people, and not the kind that throw housewarming parties. Serena’s seen too much, and now they’ll have to kill her. At the last minute, she’s saved by a mysterious figure who gives his life for hers. She runs and escapes…but the story is far from over. In a story where nothing is as it seems, it’s hard to think of Stranger Things happening.

Central to the plot is the idea of why someone would sacrifice themselves for another. That question is at the core of Serena’s journey. While readers know a bit of her mysterious savior, Serena knows nothing, yet is determined to figure out who he is and what he stood for.

Her savior, Christopher, has spent a decade getting young girls out of the sex trafficking industry, beginning with his younger sister, Amber. The small organization he runs has been trying to take down John Roman, a notorious pimp who has managed to always stay one step above the law. Serena’s alleged misconduct comes to their attention and they begin to draw lines from her to Roman. But what is the connection? Where does Serena really fit in?

Erin Healy’s latest novel is not always an easy read. Events are sometimes hard to follow because we see them strictly through the eyes of the characters. Mysterious things are mysterious because, well, that’s how the characters understand them and that’s how the reader is supposed to observe them. Stick with the story and the pieces will soon fall into place. Healy also tackles the tough topic of sex trafficking, particularly underage trafficking. She does a great job of portraying the subject in all its horror without crossing a boundary into the grotesque.

In the end, with Stranger Things, Erin Healy gives us a compelling novel with a great premise. Not my favorite in the Healy canon…I reserve that spot for The Promises She Keeps…but still a solid novel that kept me turning pages. With her typical flair and eloquence, Healy takes readers through an incredible journey that will leave you thinking long after the last page closes.

four-stars

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