Friday, 2 March 2012

Strangers by Dejay

Justina Murphy, (Murphy) had a miserable childhood with regular beatings from her mother. At the tender age of thirteen, she was betrayed by her best friend and outed. Her mother beat her within an inch of her life and threw her out onto the streets to fend for herself.

Somehow Murphy survived life on the streets and got her life into a semblance of order. Now thirty years later, she owns her own car wash business that is getting more profitable as each year passes.

Victoria Wainwright, (Vicki) works for the DCS, Department of Child Services. Murphy and Vicki meet when Vicki has to try to persuade Murphy to take in and care for two strangers. The two young girls are her nieces, Jesse and Brianna. Murphy’s deceased sister Bernadette’s daughters. Murphy had no idea they even existed after being estranged from her family for so long.

Murphy at first declines to help them. How can she stretch her sparse earnings three ways? Every extra cent she has is put back into the business. Murphy is used to solitude. How can she allow two strangers to disrupt her orderly existence? As it is, Murphy is living her life on the edge, struggling with secrets and a past she just can’t let go of. What will Murphy do?

Jesse is the eldest and had promised her mother to take care of her younger sister, Brianna. Bernadette explained that Murphy would need help and understanding if they were to have any chance of being a family together. Murphy hadn’t a clue what normal family life could be like. Jesse is also conflicted and confused by her feelings for another girl. She knows her aunt Murphy is a lesbian, but she also knows this is totally unacceptable in the catholic school both girls attend.

Inevitably when the two girls and Murphy live together, there are problems. Will Murphy be able to cope, or will she just give in?

During the course of solving some of these problems, the past comes back to hit Murphy full force. But it also gives up the answers to a thirty year old suicide, that Murphy has nursed close to her chest all these years.

Meanwhile in amongst all the family problems, Murphy finds herself attracted to Vicki. But Vicki is hiding a terrible secret. One which will not allow her to even consider pursuing a relationship with anyone. Ever. Will Vicki trust Murphy enough to reveal all to her?

When I read Dejay’s first book, Redemption, I didn’t think her writing or story telling could get any better. I was wrong. Redemption is a truly excellent book, but I think Strangers has the a slight edge over it. If asked why, I would say I preferred the storyline in Strangers. But this of course, is just my opinion. Both are wonderful books.

Dejay strikes me as an author who goes where other authors fear to tread. She doesn’t mind writing about controversial issues. This book, like her first, contains subject matter that not everyone will be comfortable with. But, please don’t let this put you off of buying this wonderfully well written book. Everything is written in a tasteful and sympathetic way. Sympathetic to the subject matter and the reader. There are no nasty graphic details in this book. Just fact, written with empathy and woven in to a beautiful story.

The characters are all well formed and easy to get to know, so that it is easy to feel part of the story. Each character is essential to progressing the story along.

From the first page I was hooked in to the story. I found myself rushing to find out what happened next. I had to slow myself down. This is one of those books I simply didn’t want to end. The whole book was a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Full of twists and turns along the way. Leaving the reader breathless and wanting more. The element of mystery had me on the edge of my seat. The past and the present are all cleverly written so that the reader knows exactly where they are.

The book also made me think about the issues homeless people face. The animosity they come across and their fight for survival.

Dejay is a wonderful writer, she must have done extensive research for this book. It’s obvious that she cares about what she writes. Dejay is on my list of ‘must buy the books of authors’. This book is a definite re-read.

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