Reviewer June Maffin:Living on an island in British Columbia, Canada, Dr. Maffin is a neophyte organic gardener, eclectic reader, ordained minister (Anglican/Episcopal priest) and creative spirituality writer/photographer with a deep zest for life. Previously, she has been grief counselor, broadcaster, teacher, journalist, television host, chaplain and spiritual director with an earned doctorate in Pastoral Care (medical ethics i.e. euthanasia focus). Presently an educator, freelance editor, blogger, and published author of three books, her most recent (Soulistry-Artistry of the Soul: Creative Ways to Nurture your Spirituality) has been published in e-book as well as paperback format and a preview can be viewed on YouTube videos. Founder of Soulistry™ she continues to lead a variety of workshops and retreats connecting spirituality with creativity and delights in a spirituality of play. You can find out more about June by clicking on her Web Site.
Author: Erin Healy
Author: Erin Healy
Memorable and unique characters fill the pages of this book. There’s 21 year old college student and aspiring singer, Promise Dayton, who is suffering from terminal cystic fibrosis and searching for ways to leave a legacy of fame for loved ones to remember her by; Porta Cerreto, an aging witch and art collector in search of immortality; Porta’s son, college student and photographer, Zack; autistic artist Chase Ellis, a veritable encyclopedia of trees who is in love with Promise, and tries to warn her that Porta is dangerous; Chelsea Ellis (Chase’s twin sister) whose sacrificial love for her brother is unconditional; Wes who helps care for Chase; and Promise’s roommate, cystic fibrosis sufferer Michelle.
Some books are a “grabber” on the first page; other books take pages (or chapters) to hook the reader. This book was the latter – it took quite a while to get into. Had I not agreed to review it, I would have not finished the book. However, I’m glad I did. Once Erin Healy got into her plot, the book moved – quickly and well.
Poetic-like writing (“How many more years or months before she lay between hospital sheets and turned to dust and her name vanished from the face of the earth like those indentations of her body in the sand, erased by the rising tide”), a deep understanding of and connection with art (“It is an experience, a powerful experience that can awaken things within us that we thought had died”), the depth of understanding of both autism and cystic fibrosis (which bring an unexpected informational layer to the book), and the intricate weaving in and through the plot from beginning to a most unexpected ending, add to the unique nature of this book.
On top of all of that, The Promises She Keeps is a tale of mystery and spirituality. With an uncanny ability to see and draw what others cannot see, the childlike Chase is the holy catalyst that brings about transformation for Promise and retribution for Porta. His artwork is simple – trees which spiritually represent the people he meets. His drawings mystify those who receive them as gifts, as does his “I love you” words spoken to the recipient of each gift.
And it is “love” which lies at the crux of the book. What is the nature of love? Is there a special sibling-love, a unique maternal-love, a universal humanity-love? The question Healy puts forth (“What would life be like if we all give away something of ourselves, with unconditional love”) undergirds this “good vs evil” story from a Christian perspective and those who enjoy faith-based novels will find this to be a good read.
An extra bonus is the Reading Group Guide chapter at the end of the book which can easily propel this from a solitary read to a great book for Book Club members who enjoy being guided in their discussions.