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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Mary Swander loved her solitary life on the Iowa prairie. But when a car accident leaves her partially paralyzed, her chronic pain unresponsive to medication, she is virtually helpless and must depend on the care of a team of friends to help her through the frozen winter. Offered a position to teach at the University of New Mexico, she grabs it, hopeful that the warmer, drier climate may do her some good.
Ensconced in Albuquerque, Swander, a lapsed Catholic, tentatively begins to reconnect with her lost faith through talks with a Russian Orthodox monk. Father Sergei's church is a small oasis of peace and beauty on a stretch of Route 66 that harbors crack dealers, gangs, and the homeless. Swander also seeks out alternative methods of treatment, enlisting the support of Lu, an herbal healer who refuses payment.
The combination of Lu's herbs and Father Sergei's chats begins to have a miraculous effect, not only strengthening Swander physically but reawakening her spirit as well. As Lu reminds her, "Faith doesn't mean that everything will always be good in life. That's luck. Faith means you'll always be connected wherever life takes you."
With this poetic look at pain, acceptance, faith, and the unknown, Mary Swander has given readers a real gift. (Fall 2003 Selection)