Cross Currents [NOOK Book]


Thailand's pristine Ko Phi Phi island attracts tourists from around the world. There, struggling to make ends meet, small-resort owners Lek and Sarai are happy to give an American named Patch room and board in exchange for his help. But when Patch's brother, Ryan, arrives, accompanied by his girlfriend, Brooke, Lek learns that Patch is running from the law, and his presence puts Lek's family at risk. Meanwhile, Brooke begins to doubt her love for Ryan while her feelings for ...
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Cross Currents

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Thailand's pristine Ko Phi Phi island attracts tourists from around the world. There, struggling to make ends meet, small-resort owners Lek and Sarai are happy to give an American named Patch room and board in exchange for his help. But when Patch's brother, Ryan, arrives, accompanied by his girlfriend, Brooke, Lek learns that Patch is running from the law, and his presence puts Lek's family at risk. Meanwhile, Brooke begins to doubt her love for Ryan while her feelings for Patch blossom.

In a landscape where nature's bounty seems endless, these two families are swept up in an approaching cataclysm that will require all their strength of heart and soul to survive...

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The fifth novel from Shors (Beneath a Marble Sky) features young Americans so unworldly as to strain credulity, local Thais so saintly and industrious as to be unintentionally patronizing, and a questionable use of the 2004 Asian Tsunami for deus ex machina purposes. After punching a Bangkok policeman during a botched drug deal, Patch (a young American tourist) flees to the beautiful, remote island of Kho Phi Phi, where he plans to hide until he can either sneak out of the country or muster the courage to turn himself in and serve a year in Thai prison. He is soon taken in by Lek and Sarai, the owners of the beachfront Rainbow Resort. Despite the resort's idyllic location, the couple struggles to make ends meet and constantly worry that they will have to look for work in Bangkok. Soon, Patch's older brother Ryan and Ryan's girlfriend Brooke arrive to try and persuade Patch to turn himself in. After a few days, Brooke is unsure which brother is right for her: priggish, well-meaning Ryan or wild, soulful Patch. Unfortunately, the novel doesn't even function as a tropical soap opera—only the morbidly curious will read on to the mildly distasteful finale. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"Gripping, moving, and ravishingly written, Shors' latest is a stunning story of family, connection, and the astonishing power of nature."—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

"A maelstrom of riveting action. I loved this book." — Karl Marlantes, New York Times bestselling author of Matterhorn

"A supremely readable tale." — Joan Silber, bestselling author of The Size of the World

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101544068
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/6/2011
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 398,892
  • File size: 449 KB

Meet the Author

John Shors
John Shors traveled extensively throughout Asia after graduating from Colorado College. His novels have been translated into 25 languages.


Published in 2004, John Shors' debut novel, Beneath a Marble Sky, was a major hit with critics from the start. An ambitious romance chronicling the lives of Emperor Shah Jahan the creator of the Taj Mahal, the wife for whom he built the legendary palace, and their daughter who falls in love with its architect, Beneath a Marble Sky was hailed as a major debut by publications ranging from the Des Moines Register to the India Post. Still, Shors' labor of love was not exactly soaring off of bookstore shelves. That's when the young author devised a radical, and radically personal, method of generating the kind of sales Beneath a Marble Sky deserved.

"I came up with the idea of putting the letter in the back of the paper back, with my e-mail address, and inviting book clubs to invite me to their evenings," Shors told CBS News. Soon enough, Shors was receiving scores of requests to visit local book clubs and speak about his novel. He also discovered that sales of Beneath a Marble Sky were on the rise. By November of 2006, Shors had visited over 200 clubs and was booked for many more through 2008.

Such ambition may be unusual in the world of publishing, but it is hardly new to Shors. Prior to penning Beneath a Marble Sky, he had traveled to Asia after years of studying creating writing and English at Colorado College. For three years, he taught English in Kyoto, Japan, but never able to remain still for long, he decided to exit his teaching post to backpack across the continent. Shors tramped through ten countries and scaled the mythic Himalayas in Nepal, but it was a 1999 sojourn in India that really altered the path of his life. "Seeing the wonder of the Taj Mahal, and understanding that a man built it for his wife -- a woman he cherished above all else in life -- was uniquely inspiring," Shors confided to Washington Independent "Indian poets have been writing about this love story for centuries. And yet, not many people in the West know the tale. I realized that I had to tell it. Quite honestly, I was amazed and delighted to discover upon my return to America that no one in the West had ever fictionalized the story."

Words such as "vivid" and "colorful" have been used to describe the epic that Shors' visit to the Taj Mahal inspired. Beneath a Marble Sky follows the life of Shah Jahan as he has the palace built for Mumtaz Mahal and they raise a bright girl named Jahanara, who not only learns the ins and outs of political thought from her father but also inherits is sense of romance. She ultimately falls in love with Isa the architect in charge of constructing the Taj Mahal and a man she is forbidden to wed.

Now that Shors is on the road again (of course, this time he is traversing America rather than exotic Asia), Beneath a Marble Sky is steadily becoming as much of a hit with readers as it had been with critics since its publication. The novel went on to average sales of 1,000 copies a week. Although he has quite a full plate with his numerous book club obligations, he is still managing to find time to begin work on his second novel. Despite such a daunting schedule, the ever-energetic Shors is marching ahead with typical gusto, enthusing to CBS News: "I'm excited to do so."

Good To Know

Shortly after its publication, Beneath a Marble Sky fell into the hands of actor Eriq La Salle, former star of TV's E.R. and currently head of a production company called Humble Journey Films. Shors told Washington Independent that La Salle's company "is very serious about making Beneath a Marble Sky into a major movie. They are making great progress and I'm cautiously optimistic that they'll pull it off."

Beneath a Marble Sky is both a book about world culture and a book that encourages world culture in a very practical way. Shors has arranged to donate a portion of the sales of his novel to the Children's International Summer Villages (CISV) a nonprofit organization promoting cultural understanding among people around the globe.

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Shors:

"I've been lucky enough to travel to five continents and many countries."

"While I am a perfectionist when it comes to my writing (I edited Beneath a Marble Sky 56 times), I am a bit of a slob around the house."

"I cannot stand the feel of cotton balls, and our little girl constantly torments me by rubbing them against my skin."

"I'd like my readers to know that I sincerely and profoundly appreciate their support. The success of Beneath a Marble Sky has given me a great gift, and I hope to repay this gift by creating powerful novels for years to come. Additionally, if any reader has a particular question for me, I'll be delighted to answer her or his question. I can be reached at and I'll happily write back to anyone who contacts me."

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    1. Hometown:
      Boulder, Colorado
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 4, 1969
    2. Place of Birth:
      Des Moines, Iowa
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Colorado College, 1991
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Another Marvel of a Book

    I'm a long-time fan of John Shors, having jumped head first on his fan-wagon when I cracked the opening pages of "The Marble Sky." I had never read anything quite like that novel. It was simply spectacular and I recommend it to everyone. Since that novel, Shors has continued to produce incredibly stellar work; most recently the slightly heartbreaking and amazingly soulful "The Dragon House" about a children's shelter in Viet Nam.

    My expectations, then were very high for "Cross Currents." So when it was a bit slow in the uptake for John's usual book it was frightening for someone who loves his work like I do. There was too much information about the children of the Thai family on which the novel focuses for me. I didn't really care about the minute details of the family's day-to-day activities. I was ready for the "Shor Show" that I knew he was able to produce!! I nearly put the book down and wondered what happened to --why was this novel so different?

    What happened was what happens to all good fans of a favorite author: I refused to give up on the novel. I kept picking it back up and I kept reading. Soon the story began to really develop the American character, Patch, giving him a depth of angst, heart and unselfishness. When his brother and girlfriend come to Thailand's island of Ko Phi Phi to see him; and Ryan wants to convince Patch to take a difficult, untenable turn in his life, the plot really heats up. Suddenly, this book was reading like a true Shors novel!

    I relay all of this to you simply to let you know that this may be a novel you'll have to give a chance. It's a wonderful story. What John was doing in the beginning was causing us to get to know the local family that his American protagonist came to love. He wanted us to understand the character and culture of the island people whose lives were destroyed in the Ko Phi Phi tsunami. In "Cross Currents" there are characters you'll fall in love with who have depth of feeling and intensity of humanity.

    When the tragedy of the tsunami devastates Ko Phi Phi you'll be crushed in the throes of the ocean with a horror only akin to that that must have been felt by those trapped on the island that day. I could not believe how vividly Shors showed me those moments! I could see it so clearly and winced with sympathetic agony when his characters were torn and thrown in the impossible turbulence.

    This is a powerful story full of the passion of human kindness, true love and personal sacrifice. This is a real John Shors novel. I'm happy to recommend it to you as strongly as I do his other books.

    5 stars for life!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2011


    As a book critic, I am sent many novels, some of which I read and enjoy, but do not have the space to review in the paper. Cross Currents is such a novel. I was drawn to, and I adored this story, which is set in Ko Phi Phi, Thailand, and involves a variety of characters--young and old, Thai and American, male and female. As the story progressed I felt increasingly connected with these characters, and by the time the tsunami hit, I was reading late into the night and stayed up until I finished. This is rare novel--both lyrical and compelling. I suspect to see it on bestseller lists and regret that I couldn't review it in the paper, but am glad to do so here.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2012

    Pretty good..

    Enjoyed the ending and the descriptiveness...

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  • Posted January 19, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A Fantastic Book!!! 7 Stars

    John Shors yet again pulls off a brilliant piece of work. This time he takes us to the island of Ko Phi Phi before and during the tsunami that hit in 2004.

    During this 11 day journey he manages to give you a great feeling of Thailand; it's people and their culture. It is after all 'The Land of Smiles'. As with all his books he manages to make you feel as if you are on the island itsself. You experience the sights, sounds and smells of all it has to offer.

    As he creates each character you are held in suspense watching them grow in love; familial, brotherly and romantic. That love is put to the test when the tsunami hits. It is truly a story about the power of love as well as the power of nature. I was deeply moved by this poignant and life-affirming novel.

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  • Posted November 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Story flowed effortlessly!

    Review by JoAnne: This was a wonderful novel about family, survival and love. The main characters were a family of 5 plus their grandmother from Ko Phi Phi island in Thailand and two American brothers. Shors did a masterful job of showing us the interactions between family members in their own family as well as between the two families. The vivid descriptions of the island, boats, restaurant, bungalows, the beach and the pier made you able to visualize the words and made you feel as if you were there - to see the sights, smell the sea and the foods, feel the heat along with the coolness of the water. There was love shown between the family members and the important role each one played in the family dynamics was explored. The devastation caused by the tsunami was made real in Shors telling and the ending itself was unexpected and caused many tears even though more happy endings than I expected were reported. The story flowed effortlessly and the richness in the telling was unexpected. I have not read other books written by Shors but they will be added to my to be read pile. I just hope the others are as well written as Cross Currents.

    Favorite Quote: "...As the sun approached the horizon, its light changed colors, as if it were penetrating stained glass at an ancient cathedral, illuminating the island and sea in scarlet and amber. The sun's descent was slow and peaceful, as were the sounds of dusk - the beeps of tree frogs mingling with the distant drone of longboat engines."

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  • Posted September 13, 2011


    Cross Currents may be the most powerful, beautiful novel I've ever read. The novel takes place over an eleven day period in Ko Phi Phi, Thailand, and follows an American and a Thai family in the days before the tsunami of 2004. I felt so strongly connected to the characters in this novel. I loved them, and when the wave came toward the end of the book, I literally did not put it down until I finished. I just kept thinking--wow.

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  • Posted September 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Breathtaking and Stunning!

    Stunning. Absolutely stunning. That is the best way to describe this novel by John Shors. His emotional passion, his richly detailed events, and his tenderly created characters work together in a way that pulls the readers in instantly and takes them on an emotional, thought provoking journey.

    Upon opening the pages of Cross Currents, I thought to myself, that I wouldn't really like this novel. After reading more about it, I just didn't think it would be for me. But, committed to giving this author a chance, I read it. When I closed the book, I was so happy that I didn't pass it by. It really, truly blew me away.

    Lek and Sarai were beautiful characters. They really showed the readers, through Mr. Shors detailed pages, what it's like to try to make the best of what you have. Patch, the American staying with Lek and Sarai and their family, helping them out around their resort, was another passionately created character. Though Patch was in trouble and hiding out with Lek and Sarai, earning his keep, I still enjoyed his character. Watching him interact with the Thai family was awesome. It showed how two cultures can be brought together and really learn about each other, really interact and become friends. Enter Ryan and Brook, Patch's brother and his girlfriend. Two more characters to fall in love with!

    I loved this author. I am now a forever fan! This novel is so much more than just a great read. It's a story that will leave you breathless, thinking about places far off, wondering what life is really like there on an island like Ko Phi Phi, what life is really like when you have to make ends meet. But it will also show you the TRUE power of friendship, of a devoted family, of sticking together no matter what the end result will be. I definitely give this novel a 5 Book worthy rating and will be putting it at the top of my recommendation list. I am anxious to go back and read more of this author's work, as well as, seeing what he has in store for his new (and previously devoted!) fans.

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  • Posted September 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Nature/Nurture: John Shors Finds the Relationship Again

    John Shors has secured his place among popular American novelists of the decade with this his sixth novel that combines a growing respect of the beauties of the globe and the intricacies of the manner in which characters seemingly misplaced in locales seek to find themselves only to discover that their place in the confusion of the world is close at hand, partially shaded by nature's vagaries. CROSS CURRENTS is Shors reaction to the now almost forgotten massively destructive tsunami that devastated much of Thailand in December 2004. His love of travel to exotic places seems to instill in him an obsession for his readers to visit the places that have meant much to him. In preparation for this particular novel he revisited Thailand several times, gathering information for his plot, but more important, soaking in the cultural differences in this exotic locales so that he might paint it more accurately. He introduces us to a Thai family of simple means - Lek, Sarai, and their three children who make a living running an island tourist `resort' on the island of Ko Phi Phi. They have given harbor to an American lad by the name of Patch whom we later learn is avoiding the law after a poorly judged run-in with drug dealing. Patch and the children are particularly close and Patch's presence helps the little family survive. From the United States comes Patches look alike brother Ryan with his girlfriend Brooke: Ryan is there in Thailand to convince Patch to turn himself in to the authorities, take his punishment and get on with his life. The brothers are very close, but different in their values systems. A rife divides not only the brothers but also unstable bond between Ryan and Brooke. After each of the brothers realizes the value of the other and the world begins to make a little sense, the tsunami comes and destroys the island and many of the inhabitants, but the fate of Patch and Ryan and Brooke and Ryan's newly discovered love of a massage girl Dao is altered in a strange way that brings closure to the story. Shors has the ability to take us to the locations where he places his novels to the point that we can smell the air, feel the water, taste the cuisine, and most important understand the inhabitants of these far off lands' peoples. He has a gift in relating formation of relationships of all kinds and manipulates his characters in such a way that they become close friends of ours, making us feel their joys and sorrows like few other authors can. And a pleasure associated with his writing is the lack of need for exaggerated language or sex: everything happens naturally and while he doesn't concentrate on dwelling with issues that can become tiresome, nor does he deny these exist. It is a matter of taste in his writing that overcomes the need for smarmy writing. He has the gift as is obvious by the accolades from famous authors pasted in the first pages of his book. John Shors will be around for a long time. Grady Harp

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  • Posted August 22, 2011

    Loved it!

    Cross Currents is the best novel that I have read in 2011. The story is as beatiful as the cover.

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  • Posted August 18, 2011


    This novel about the Indian Ocean tsunami was everything to me: humorous, unusual, beautiful, memorable, and powerful.

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  • Posted August 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    an exhilarating thriller

    In 2004 at Ko Phi Phi Island, Thailand is a major stop for tourists from all parts of the globe. Married locals Lek and Sarai raise their seven month old baby Achata as well as their older children while also running a failing resort since the larger firms have discovered the beauty of the islands. Feeling desperate they agree to give room and board to Patch the visiting American in exchange for his help at the resort.

    Patch's brother Ryan and his girlfriend Brooke arrive from the States. Lek is shocked to learn Patch is a fugitive and his presence in their lives places his family in jeopardy. Adding to the confusion is the behavior of Brooke who since their arrival begins to doubt she loves Ryan as she is attracted to Patch. Then without warning two monstrous waves hit the island from both ends before converging in the middle.

    Based on the real killing event that hit this island and many other locations, Cross Currents is an exhilarating thriller with an underlying theme to never forget any tragedy but especially one of this mind boggling magnitude. The story line is character driven (by the two extended families) as the audience sees the difference between the Thais from the island and from the mainland cities like Bangkok, and the visitors. All that changes when the tsunami is an equal opportunity killer ignoring ethnicity, religion and culture when it comes to death; those still alive in order to survive the ordeal need to trust and rely on one another or die. This is a great look at the killer tsunami that left behind over seventy times the deaths of the 9/11 tragedy as 230,000 plus died.

    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted November 9, 2011

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    Posted September 4, 2011

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    Posted April 14, 2013

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