In the early morning hours of January 31, 1968, New Year fireworks gave way to gunfire and bombs. Eleven-year-old Minh watched in horror as her father and two siblings were gunned down by the Vietcong in their backyard. Though she escaped the bullets that night, prison, torture, and rape would follow. The tragedy of her childhood would haunt Minh for the rest of her life and lead her to question God’s very existence. Why had He turned His back? What had she done to deserve such punishment? Was she beyond redemption?
Minh’s dramatic story of escape from war-torn Vietnam, as well as dangerous and unhealthy relationships throughout her life, is told with raw sincerity. Straining Forward is a riveting spiritual journey of hope and healing that reminds readers that we are all more than victims of circumstance and that even in our loneliest and most desolate moments, we are never truly alone.
Plot: This is a well-plotted book that never wallows in woe, but instead offers a message that will resonate even if readers are not religious. The pacing, plotting, and use of detail elevate the text.
Prose: Rahal does a wonderful job telling the story of Minh, whose sense of humor, wistfulness, anger, resentment, and hopes spring from the pages and draw readers into her world completely and deeply.
Originality: This is a unique and well-told story; a compelling and important read.
Character Development: This is where Rahal's work shines the brightest. Minh is a remarkable woman who persevered where so many would have given up. Rahal is able to show Minh at her worst and at her best.
Blurb: Beautifully written and deeply profound, Straining Forward is an unflinching look at a life born by war, scarred by the experience, and saved by Christ.
Date Submitted: June 19, 2018
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