(Deltona, FL: Thomas-Jacob Publishing, LLC, 2017), ISBN-13: 978-0-9979517-2-1
Four months ago I was introduced to Fleur Robins, with whom I fell instantly in love. Not romantically, understand, but as a father who wants to protect a curious and brilliant, although socially and emotionally challenged, young woman from the darkness in the world, while wanting her to bathe immersively and unabashedly in the light of it as well.
Perhaps it is the recent event of my only daughter’s eighteenth birthday, and her starting her senior year of high school as I write this. Perhaps it is the dancing whirl of contradictions that are her chosen isolation and digital world-traveling, her emotional and social strengths and weaknesses, her brilliance and naïveté and her own journey into the darkness and re-entrance into the light that make me invest so heavily in Fleur’s adventures.
This is to take nothing away from Sharon Heath, who writes with a power and honesty that draws me in and makes me laugh out loud and flinch in pain—often within the span of a page, or a paragraph.
In the interest of space, I encourage you to read my review of the first book, and, better yet—read the book itself.
Book 2 opens just past Fleur’s 21st birthday. Fleur’s quantum physics team at Caltech is hard at work on developing her Nobel Prize–winning theories and she is engaged to Assefa, a medical student at USC whose father has gone missing while trying to find the temple in Ethiopia where the fabled Ark of the Covenant is said to be kept. This is a much-changed Fleur and a much changed tone. Tizita [which is the “interplay of memory, loss, and longing” often conveyed in Ethiopian or Eritrean music or song”] is a hard book to get through. As the United States enters a pronounced phase of division over color, gender, and historical memory, all of these subjects and more send poor Fleur flapping and pinching into the void with rapidity and intensity. Her social and emotional challenges scream their depth during her sexual encounters, as they did in Book 1. As she worries over possible pregnancy and judges her admittedly questionable taste in men, I felt my tension rise.
Another difference between Books 1 and 2 are the added Assefa point-of-view chapters as he travels to and meets old friends and memory-demons in Ethiopia. Not only does this device give us insight into what he experiences while he is away, it also complicates the reader’s feelings toward Assefa. Because I care so much for Fleur, there were times that I actively disliked and wished him away. Even wished him ill. But because I knew the context of his life, through his back story and current experiences, it was incredibly hard, despite his negative actions. There is a valuable lesson here about why good storytelling just might save the world. I found myself at odds more than once with my out-sized reactions to Assefa’s actions and defending mentally the actions of others toward him. But then it was clear—it was a contest between my love of Fleur and my sympathy for him. I am sure this is exactly what Heath was going for. Kudos to her for succeeding.
Through her many adventures, including a trip to Jane Goodall’s chimpanzee institute in Gombe National Park to see her physics team’s former mascot, Hanuman, Fleur widens her worldview and learns that everyone truly has a void of their own. It is through that knowledge that she is able to forgive Assefa, others in her life, and perhaps even herself.
It is this macro/micro dynamic that drives Tizita—a natural progression given Fleur’s big-scope physics interests and her entrance into adulthood. Each macro event is linked to several micro ones. The assault against women and children in war-torn Ethiopia is sobering stuff. Thru the character of Makeda—the foil for Fleur and Assefa’s engagement—we see that there are all kinds of ways to change the world. Some are as simple as holding a dying child in its last moments on Earth, unflinchingly looking into its eyes to let him or her know they are loved.
Tizita asks the tough questions, calling upon the series’ engaging cast of support characters to serve as the moral “chorus” for Fleur’s philosophical navigation as well as doing some of the heavy lifting on their own. The complex character of physics professor Stanley Fiske is a good example, as is Fleur’s best friend’s Jewish boyfriend, Jacob. Their commentaries and self-assessments are facets to a diamond that shines with the biggest issues of our time.
Like Frodo and Sam in Lord of the Rings, the most vulnerable character in Heath’s artfully constructed world, Fleur herself, is our best chance for the (at least partial) salvation that comes with understanding after a struggle.
We cannot help but root for Fleur as we try to root for ourselves.
Popular posts from this blog
Translated by Samuel Chong (English trans. June 2021; originally published in German in 2000). ISBN: 9798513274353 In an age of Conspiracy Theory Mania—a mix of those who revel in it and those who completely reject it—there are few subjects that are as thorny and contentious as the idea that there are secret lodges or societies that set the course of geopolitics from the shadows, engineering puppet governments, wars, and catastrophes to subjugate humanity and main ultimate control. From the innocuous fraternal organizations like the Freemasons, to political and economic organizations like the Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations, and Club of Rome, the idea that a select few are making decisions for billions is one that is often met with anger and fierce recrimination. No matter the “evidence” put forth about odd places like Bohemian Grove and secret satchels with documents outlining the course of wars originating with the Bavarian Illuminati; no
“Physics to Help Humanity”: A Review of Master of Reality: Super Relativity – The Unified Field Theory, by Mark Fiorentino
(2020). ISBN: 9798615149856 What if I were to tell you that much of what we thought we knew about physics was either inaccurate or only the partial truth? Or that the speed of light was not a constant? That there is ample evidence that the U.S. government has reverse-engineered UFOs/UAPs and has at least a working understanding of anti-gravity propulsion systems? Still not feeling intrigued? What if the physics and technologies that are part of Mark Fiorentino’s Super Relativity Theory could make possible interstellar time-travel? Too big of an idea? Perhaps being anywhere in the world in a matter of minutes, or protecting the planet from destruction by asteroids, climate change, or other impending disasters? Interested yet? At 490 pages, Master of Reality is a big book, full of big ideas and bigger possibilities. Fiorentino is taking a page out of Dr. John Mack’s philosophy and “subverting the dominant paradigm.” This is a difficult road to travel—Mack, an eminent, Pulitzer
“As the Phoenix (or Mothman) Rises”: A Review of Bridging the Tragedy: Silver Linings in the Mysterious Ohio River Valley, by Bill Kousoulas and Jacqueline Kousoulas
(Chicago: Bird Mountain Books, 2022). ISBN: 9798848732122 It is not a stretch to say that Mothman is presently the most popular cryptid—bigger than Nessie, Bigfoot, and Dogman. It would also not be a stretch to posit that the collapse of the Silver Bridge, connecting Point Pleasant, West Virginia to Gallipolis, Ohio, until it fell within minutes on December 15, 1967 (killing 46 people), is the most tragic in U.S. history. It spurred President Johnson to form a highway commission and change the frequency and process by which bridges are inspected. Consider for a moment that these disparate events (despite persistent lore) happened in the course of almost exactly 13 months (starting with the first Mothman sightings around November 15, 1966) in the same tiny town of 6,000. No wonder Point Pleasant is almost mythical and certainly magical in bringing tens of thousands of visitors each year to its stuck-in-time Main Street and nearby McClintic Wildlife Management Area (aka the TNT Ar