Gina has a great story behind getting published. She kept plugging away at several novels, as many aspiring writers do. But she couldn't rest there. She founded the blog Novel Journey, to interview authors and talk about the writing process. As she attracted others to work with her, they turned it into one of Writer's Digest Top 100 websites for writers for a couple of different years. It has been a resource I have enjoyed, so I was excited for Gina when I saw her book on tour.
Crossing Oceans is the story of a young woman, Jenny Lucas, who has a 5 year old daughter Isabella, and finds that she is dying from stage 4 cancer. She is forced to return to her hometown to face her estranged father, who turned cold and distant after Jenny's mother died of a different cancer, and to reveal her daughter to the father, David Preston. To complicate matters, her father holds David's father responsible for her mother's death.
Jenny must deal with her own struggles with these two men as she determines the best situation for her daughter after she's gone. The choices she must make test her faith and her resolve to provide the best future for her girl.
At first glance, the title Crossing Oceans doesn't really give a picture of what the book is about. However, it becomes a powerful metaphor for Jenny's impending death and trying to share her faith to Isabella that they'll be together again someday. This book is very touching in its realistic portrayal of the process of dying, and in all of the characters' battles to live in the midst of death.
The characters are rich and well-done. It is said a good book has characters that stick with the reader after the book is put down. I have pondered Jenny and her childhood friend Craig since finishing, so the proof is in the pudding! The only problem I had is that the author must have a thing for toes (but you'll have to read the book to find out more...).
Gina's original forays into fiction involved writing suspense, so her knack for keeping the tension up and the pages turning show through, even though this book is more on the literary side of the scale.
My friend Becky Miller has been posting about whether men can enjoy a book with a female protagonist. I suppose this book gives me reason to say, "I'm a man and I enjoyed this fine work of women's fiction." I could've gotten choked up a couple of times (since I'm not an emotional guy, this is actually high praise!).
Overall there are a few plot points that seem awfully convenient or get skipped over quickly, but the quality writing, characters, and pacing make Crossing Oceans a striking debut by Gina Holmes. Whether you read women's fiction or not, this is a well-crafted book that deserves a chance.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Crossing Oceans, go HERE.