Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Familiar Stranger Review

Christina Berry's debut novel, The Familiar Stranger, is an amazing read, folks. Amazing.

Here's a little blurb about the book:

Craig Littleton has decided to end his marriage with his wife, Denise, but an accident lands him in the ICU with fuzzy memories. As Denise helps him remember who he is, she uncovers dark secrets. Will this trauma create a fresh start? Or has his deceit destroyed the life they built together?

As a therapist reading this book, I felt like I had been transported back to my office, sitting before a husband and wife as they told me about their version of the same event. Christina's literary device of "His" and "Hers" to indicate the point of view character was creative. Not because other authors don't swap POV of the major characters, but I've never read anyone who did it to give the reader the internal thoughts of each character about the same event. Brilliantly done! Like being in a counseling session, the man inevitably has different thoughts about what they're describing than the woman. And I do mean different. It's riveting in real of course in fiction it's a page turner.

The emotions Denise and Craig both feel are so real, too. Not once did I read through some emotional scene and think, "That wouldn't have happened. No way." This stuff definitely would have been feasible. How each one felt, thought, acted...essentially lifted from the lives of thousands of Americans and people all over the world. Page turner.

Obviously this book strikes a chord at discordant marriages. Craig and Denise have major problems prior to his trauma, as evidenced by the first chapter. We're talking about lack of communication, intimacy, affection...they are essentially roommates instead of husband and wife. Then there is the trauma Craig suffers, and the ensuing secrets uncovered put Denise through a refining fire unlike any other. Page turner.

These secrets, which will have to be skimmed over for the purpose of this review (so that you have to go to and buy this book for yourself!), are nothing to shake a stick at. Each one of the revelations uncovered would send a normal couple into therapy for a long time. And there's not just one, either. Oh, and did I mention that they are progressive in nature? Page turner.

Not because of any plot similarity, but I was reminded of the book A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken. Gripping read, as well, and a true story of Sheldon's relationship with God and his wife. Through Christina's prose and dialogue comes God's "severe mercy" to Denise...and even to Craig and his associations. Page turner.

This book ends with a twist, folks...think Ted Dekker or William Diehl who wrote Primal Fear. But the ending is truly extremely satisfying. All loose ends are tied up and you turn the last page with a sense of hope. Hope for troubled marriages and hope for prosperous futures. Page turner.

Now for a bit about Christina:

Single mother and foster parent, Christina Berry carves time to write from her busy schedule because she must tell the stories that haunt her every waking moment. (Such is the overly dramatic description of an author's life!) She holds a BA in Literature, yet loves a good Calculus problem, as well. Her debut novel, The Familiar Stranger, releases from Moody in September and deals with lies, secrets, and themes of forgiveness in a troubled marriage. A moving speaker and dynamic teacher, Christina strives to Live Transparently--Forgive Extravagantly!

You can read more about Christina at her website, or her blog,

You can BUY THIS BOOK HERE. Don't miss this terrific read.

Wordle: signature


Christina Berry said...

WOW! Jeannie, I am thrilled to have been so true to life. I guess writing from my personal pain is a good way to keep it real, but that also means that writing about God's amazing forgiveness is just as real.

Thank you for hosting me!

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

you're welcome, christina! i think my blog address change, while great for my future, could never have come at a good time. but hopefully some people will stop by!

Heather Sunseri said...

Great interview, Jeannie. I love your take on the novel through a therapist's eyes. Christina, I've been following your blog tour and am excited to read this book.

Jessica said...

Awesome review Jeannie! I didn't realize there was a his and hers type format. I love that kind of thing! Thanks for sharing about the book. :-)

Katie Ganshert said...

Great review! I know you've talked about how awesome the book is. This book review REALLY makes me want to read it. Great stuff, girl!

mariska said...

I just dropping to say ' Hi' :)
the book is still in my 'whishlist'.

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