BOOK REVIEW

STRANGE BUT TRUE - JOHN SEARLES

John Searles has created a second successful novel. STRANGE BUT TRUE is anything but 'strange', it is mesmerizing! It is a story of lives affected by events at and following a high school graduation Prom. Ronnie Chase, girlfriend Melissa, her twin sister Tracy, and date Chaz hire a limousine to deliver them to and from the Inn where the celebration is held.

Philip Chase is living with his mother Charlene in the Pennsylvania suburbs, while recuperating from a fall off a balcony of his New York City apartment. Melissa phones Philip and Charlene then pays them a visit, first since five years past. The news she has to deliver stuns Philip and receives a venomous reaction from Charlene.

Melissa is nine months pregnant. Through visitations to a psychic and in answer to her prayers, Melissa believes the conception is Ronnie's baby. She has only had sexual intercourse one time with one person and that is Ronnie Chase on the night of the Prom. However, Ronnie died almost five years ago. He was killed in a tragic accident when the limousine crashed into a thick oak tree on the return trip taking the foursome home. The limo driver had a high level of alcohol in his system. Full of loneliness and sadness, Melissa is estranged from her parents, living in a cottage, and has received a notice to vacate because of unpaid rent. Landlords Gail and Bill Erwin appear to be happily married, even though Gail has been disappointed in a few previous marriages and Bill is an ex-policeman who was asked to leave his job.

Richard Chase, Ronnie's father, and second wife Holly live in Florida. Richard harbors a secret from the past. Charlene is an embittered ex-wife and mother grieving for her dead son. Along with Ronnie's 1979 Mercedes in the garage, Charlene keeps Ronnie's bedroom locked enshrined like a museum. Formerly a librarian, Charlene visits the town library. As she steps into the lobby, "she is overcome by one simple thing: the smell of books." Philip loves reading and writing poetry. He has always known that his brother was the favored son. He overheard a conversation in which Charlene said "... the wrong son died".

Searles delivers poetic essence in STRANGE BUT TRUE. In one instance he writes, "The wind. has died off, leaving the woods around the three small houses in a perfect hush." With intended humor, the author also writes of Charlene speaking to Philip, "...watching too much TV will make your brain rot". Searles's style of storytelling encourages readers to linger from beginning to end uniquely blending chapters with the past and the present . The author gives credence to main and sideline characters assigning each a burden of trials, tribulations, and disappointments.

STRANGE BUT TRUE is an avid reader's treasure full of astounding surprises. Personification of the cast members is uniquely filled with happiness and sadness, anger and forgiveness, loss and gain, hatred and love, good and evil, but most of all - survival.

A story that poetically embraces the emotions - puts a lump in the throat, a tug to the heart, and gives hope for the soul. Every book has a message -- STRANGE BUT TRUE speaks volumes!

REVIEWED BY JOSEPHINE ANNA KASZUBA LOCKE

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER,
JOSEPHINE ANNA  KASZUBA LOCKE

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