A straightforward rendering of one woman’s spiritual journey.



A debut novel offers a Christian perspective on the eternal war between good and evil and how salvation remains a choice.

Jeriley O’Connor is thrilled for a fresh start. Longing to escape a dark past—a series of “mistakes” that are often referenced but never explained—she packs her bags and heads south to start a new job. On her first day in the unnamed picturesque beach town where she now lives, Jeriley spots the handsomest man she has ever seen. The next day they cross paths at the beach, and she is formally acquainted with Stephen, “an easy spirit” with “an uncanny calming effect.” Within a few hours, Jeriley also meets Adrian, a dangerously sexy bachelor with a wicked grin who works “in the business of procurement.” Little does she know, her suitors are actually representatives of God and the devil, battling on behalf of their masters for her soul. While Stephen fights with compassion and understanding, Adrian counters with seduction and bad-boy sex appeal. Stephen receives some help from Lydia Jordan, Jeriley’s assistant and a devout Christian. Just when he has finally convinced Jeriley to dig up her grandmother’s Bible, a meddlesome fallen angel named Zain orchestrates a horrible car accident that leaves her in a coma. Now, both Jeriley’s mortal life and eternal soul are in limbo, and it’s up to Stephen to convince her that “nothing could ever compare to the greatness and goodness of God the Creator.” In the spirit of religious parables, Jeriley is a sort of Everywoman, and Sweat elects to paint her life in broad strokes. For instance, her job on the “editing team” at a place called Donovan is characterized by “projects” and “paperwork.” It’s a device that works insofar as it limits the book’s focus to the religious message, but it may not satisfy readers looking for character development or elaborate plotlines. Furthermore, while Jeriley’s choice is clear by the story’s finish, other loose ends—like a main character’s fate—are left untied. For these reasons, this will likely please fans of Christian fiction but have limited crossover appeal.

A straightforward rendering of one woman’s spiritual journey.

Pub Date: June 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5127-4182-7

Page Count: 190

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2017

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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