This is a book to be savored and pondered.'
The Feathered Boneby Julie Cantrell
“Feathers—no matter what size or shape or color—are all the same, if you think about them. They’re soft. Delicate. But the secret thing about feathers is . . . they are very strong.”
In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth-grade field trip/b>/b>/b>
“Feathers—no matter what size or shape or color—are all the same, if you think about them. They’re soft. Delicate. But the secret thing about feathers is . . . they are very strong.”
In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth-grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace.
Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks into depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed.
Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss.
Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.
This is a book to be savored and pondered.'
What starts off as a fun Halloween sixth-grade field trip to New Orleans for Ellie and Sarah turns into a terrifying odyssey for Amanda Salassi, the chaperone and Ellie's mother, when Sarah vanishes. Initially, there is the expectation that the missing girl will be found. But as the search for Sarah extends from days to years, the strain of the guilt becomes too much for Amanda and her family. In a tale reminiscent of the story of Job, Amanda experiences losses that eventually rival those of the missing girl's family. VERDICT Inspired by the real-life kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, the author of the Christy Award-winning Into the Free and Carol Award winner When Mountains Move has written an excruciatingly dark and disturbing novel about the devastating impact of sex trafficking on two families. Although Cantrell inserts a grain of hope in the novel, her portrait of loss and heartbreak will leave readers reeling. This latest work is bound to be nominated for all the major CF literary awards. [Previewed in Julia M. Reffner's "Trials and Tribulations" Genre Spotlight feature, LJ 11/15/15.]
- Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Read an Excerpt
The Feathered Bone
By Julie Cantrell
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2016 Julie Cantrell
All rights reserved.
Friday, October 29, 2004 The Day
A magic moves the day as if anything could happen. Perhaps it's the pulse of jazz in the air, or the rhythmic churn of the riverboats, or the warm winds that swoop the levee, but there's a hint of mystery surrounding us. Something has charged the marrow walled within my bones. Pay attention, it says. And so I do.
It's the week of Halloween — not the best time to bring a sixth-grade class on a field trip to the Big Easy. But three rain delays pushed back the date, so here we are in New Orleans, where thick, milky fog rises from the river like steam. It nearly blocks our view of a shiny white tugboat and her long string of barges nosing their way through the coffee-colored currents.
We wait at Mardi Gras World, the famous tourist trap where my daughter, Ellie, and her classmates have come to learn the history of carnival season. Unlike the cars that buzz across the Crescent City Connection, or the boats that linger lazily beneath the bridge, we are landbound. We're also surrounded by mermaids, each elaborately carved and painted by Blaine Kern's studio artists.
Around the sculptures, a festive crowd filters through. They are free spirits, wearing rainbow face paint as they scuttle for a better view of the Mississippi. "A cape?" my friend Beth whispers. "Cute."
"Getting that party started early." Raelynn eyes the most flamboyant tourist before taking a seat beneath the pergola. "Argh, it's wet." She pulls beads around her neck, adjusting the plastic pendant that serves as our admission ticket for the guided tour.
Across the waterfront patio, a brass band pipes through scratchy speakers. Potted palm trees dance in the breeze. From the river, a dull horn bellows, causing our students to roar. The raucous tourist swings by again, her cape whipping wildly, her cheeks all aglitter. While this scene might be expected during Mardi Gras, it's unusual for a Friday morning in October.
My daughter shuffles through the crowd, staying close to her best friend, Sarah. A heavyweight redhead wearing dollar-store fangs jumps in front of them with a deep and masculine "Boo!" Ellie startles, and the jokester jolts away, laughing. This leaves our students wide-eyed, the chaperones on edge.
"Let's go ahead and get the children back inside," Miss Henderson instructs. She is young and not yet burned out from the never-ending demands of public education. Even now she remains pleasant as she taps one of her more rambunctious students on the shoulder, nudging him down from the railing where he's at risk of falling into the dangerous currents.
"Girls?" Beth and I both call for our daughters. In response, Sarah and Ellie skip into line, their arms laced together, their steps in sync. As they prance beneath a strand of purple and green party lights, Sarah's blond hair catches a glow, exaggerating her angelic complexion. Her innocent blue eyes twinkle with a sort of naïve joy not normally associated with raucous Bourbon Street celebrations. I whisper to Beth, "She could model for American Girl dolls."
"They're both beautiful." Raelynn drags behind. "The only problem is, which one will get to marry my Nate?"
"Yuck!" they protest, and Miss Henderson laughs, closing the double doors behind us.
Inside the gift shop, students explore rows of spirit dolls and voodoo pins, while Sarah and Ellie move to the collection of intricate masks. They have just begun to dance in disguise when a shopper steps up from behind. She's older than us. Close to fifty, I'm guessing. At thirty-five, fifty is sounding younger to me by the day.
"They sisters?" She asks this while watching Ellie and Sarah giggle in feathered face gear.
"Might as well be," Beth answers. "Born on the same day. Best friends since birth." She doesn't bother explaining that our girls are without siblings and have learned to rely on one another to fill that role.
"Figures. My daughters wouldn't have been so nice to each other at that age." She looks at me a little too long, and I shift away, adjusting my heavy backpack. It's crammed with first-aid gear and water bottles — just in case.
The woman leans closer. "You're from Walker?" She points to my bright-green shirt, the one Miss Henderson designed. It shows a school bus surrounded by classic New Orleans symbols: Mardi Gras masks, musical notes, and the traditional fleur-de-lis. At the bottom it reads LP to NOLA 2004, suggesting we've all traveled more than an hour east from rural Livingston Parish to explore our state's most famous city, "The City That Care Forgot."
I nod. "We're here for a field trip. You?"
"Albany," she says. "You may not remember, but are you a social worker? In Denham Springs? Amanda Salassi?"
My heart sinks. Is she one of my clients? Why can't I place her?
I scrape my brain, trying to pull this file — her round face, the gnawed fingernails, the tiny Hungarian hamlet of Albany known for its strawberries and quiet way of life. I draw nothing but blanks.
"You go out on call sometimes, with Sheriff Ardoin?" She keeps her voice low, hesitant.
Chills rise. I remember. She weighed at least a hundred pounds less when I last saw her, but her soft voice, something about that thin smile. "Mrs. Hosh?"
She nods, and we offer one another a warm glance.
"I'm sorry I didn't recognize you. Your hair was a lot longer.
"Yeah." She says this with a half chuckle, reaching up to feel her short blond crop.
It's all coming back to me now. The tight-knit settlement. The protective way her kinfolk circled, unwilling to let me in. Her late-night calls to my home phone, in secret, asking to talk.
"I want you to know" — she dabs her eye with the back of her finger — "I couldn't have survived it without you. Knowing you cared. And you didn't judge. Getting the others to call me. That helped. More than you can understand. Just knowing they had survived it."
I gesture for Beth to watch the girls. Then I lead Mrs. Hosh to the side. "You're here," I whisper. "You survived it too."
"One breath at a time. That's all I can do."
"That's all you have to do," I tell her, drawing her into a gentle hug. "Just keep breathing."
She holds me close, so tight her shoulder clamps against my throat, but I don't dare pull away. It doesn't matter that we are in a public gift shop, surrounded by chaperones and strangers. Or that my daughter and her friends watch us as they toy with touristy trinkets. All that matters is that this woman, right this moment, needs a hug. So that's what we do. We hug.
* * *
After the emotional exchange with Mrs. Hosh, I hurry to catch up with Ellie's class. They are following a cheerful tour guide into the theater, where he instructs us to zip sparkly costumes over our clothes. I grab four hangers, each with a long satin shirt that's been studded with sequins. Ellie chooses turquoise, her favorite color. It works well with her olive complexion and dark curls, which she inherited from Carl's Italian roots. In contrast, Sarah snatches hot pink, a bright anchor to her blond ponytail. Beth and I settle for the leftovers, while Raelynn snags a set for Nate and crew.
"Choose a hat." Beth points to a stand filled with plush velvet caps. We select a few and hurry to the back of the room, where a three-dimensional Mardi Gras mural has been built for photo ops.
Sarah waves her hand like a princess and stands straight. "I'm the Queen of Endymion."
"And I'm the Queen of Bacchus," Ellie adds, bending her knees in a dramatic curtsy. I snap her photo, certain it will make the cut for this year's scrapbook.
Just on the other side of the wall, a café keeps our space swirling with scents of chicory coffee, a temptation that is becoming hard to ignore. "Man, I need a cup of brew," Raelynn admits. She rushes past us with her group of boys, a motley crew of hunters and fishermen who would rather be on a boat or a four-wheeler than anywhere near a city. But they are being good sports, pretending to fight over which one of them gets to wear the pastel pink shirt for the photo.
Before the students get too hyper, the guide takes over again. "All righty. Parents, please put the costumes away while I start the film." He speaks with enthusiasm, dimming the lights.
The students quickly pass the gear while black-and-white images begin to flicker, bringing us back to the early 1800s when Creoles held lavish masquerade balls. Eventually the parties spilled into the boulevards, and revelers began to toss special treats to onlookers. Then came the first floats, lit with flambeaus — an elaborate party-on-wheels.
"When will they pass out the king cake?" Raeylnn asks, causing the students to look our way.
Beth puts her finger to her mouth, the way a mother would tell her child to hush. Then she sweeps soft curls from her forehead, revealing a thin streak of gray at her crown. Raelynn's brightly dyed locks and tattooed wrists mark a stark contrast to Beth's conservative style. And yet we've grown up a tried-but-true trio. The "three amies" as Raelynn likes to call us, a play on her Cajun tongue.
The film ends, and we make our way into the café where our guide begins doling out the cake, a braided sweet dough topped with confectioner's icing and sprinkled with colorful sugar crystals. Miss Henderson prompts, "Do any of you know why we eat king cake?"
Sarah, teacher's pet and usually the first to raise her hand, draws a blank and turns to Ellie for backup. But my daughter, too, seems to have no clue. Either that or she's too shy to answer.
One of the boys shouts his guess. "Some kind of voodoo thing?"
The guide chuckles. "A lot of people do associate New Orleans with voodoo, you're right. And some in these parts still practice, but we're mostly a Roman Catholic culture. So if you grew up in Louisiana, you probably already know the story of the three wise men."
Seeing we are from Walker, a rural sidekick to Baton Rouge and the kind of place that has more steeples than graves, the guide must realize he's safe with this religious topic, even if we are a public school. "Twelve days after Christmas, on January 6, we celebrate the wise men's visit with the Feast of the Epiphany. And we keep the party going all the way through Fat Tuesday, which in French is called ... what?"
"Mardi Gras!" A handful of students are proud to know the answer.
"That's right. It's the day before Ash Wednesday, which of course launches the Lenten season — when Catholics give up our favorite treats and focus on being good." He laughs before adding, "Well, as good as we can be down here in New Orleans."
Then he steers off course a bit. "I'm sure some of you are Catholic." About half the class raise their hands, including Nate, one of the many CCD kids who has spent his Wednesdays riding the catechism bus to Immaculate Conception. "Anyway, to honor those three wise men, or kings, we make the cake round — like a crown — and we only serve it during carnival."
Ellie takes a bite, dusting her lips with green sugar sparkles, just as Nate cheers, "I got the baby!"
"Figures," Sarah says, eyeing the small plastic token in Nate's hands. "He wins everything."
When offered a piece of the dessert, Beth holds her perfectly trim waistline, saying, "I'd better not."
Raelynn then woos the guide into giving her Beth's forsaken slice. "Score!" She turns my way, beaming.
I nibble my cake and stay with the girls as our guide leads us into the massive warehouse — one of many owned by the business-savvy Kern family. Here, they design and decorate floats, while storing the oversized parade trailers.
We are led past giant replicas of everything from anime characters to zoo animals. At our first stop, a woman stands on a ladder, coating a massive sea monster in papier-mâché. Strip by strip, she covers the sculpture with brown craft paper, patiently building a smooth surface for the next round of artists to coat with primer.
"They must not know your trick," Beth says, wafting the air as if she can't bear the odor. She knows I add cinnamon to our glue at home, where Ellie and I are always working on some kind of art project.
"I want this job," Ellie says, now admiring a half-painted prop. The artist dips a thin brush into a pool of pink and drags it across the lips of a goddess.
"Seems like a fun place to work." I roll my fingers through Ellie's dark curls. She tolerates my touch for a second before easing away, moving from childhood through tweendom, closing in much too quickly on the tipping point of thirteen.
"I wish I could draw." Sarah's praise causes my daughter's cheeks to turn pink.
"What do you want to be?" I ask Sarah.
"A missionary," she says. "Somewhere far away. Like what my parents did."
Beth responds with affection, recalling her brief stint in Ghana where she fell in love with Sarah's father — the laid-back Cajun youth minister known only as Preacher.
Before Beth gets too deep in reminiscing, the guide redirects our attention to another artist, this one drawing a corset around a tiny waistline, exaggerating the voluptuous figure. The painter holds a feather and examines her work.
"What do you call that thing she's wearing?" Sarah asks.
Beth stiffens. "We'll talk about that later."
Sarah blows her cheeks and accepts defeat, but the artist turns and with a grim expression says, "It's a corset."
I'd guess she's in her sixties, with thinning gray hair and skin that hasn't seen the sun in decades. Her clothes, wrinkled and paint-stained, give her a look not so different from the homeless men we saw on our way through the city this morning.
"What's the feather for?" Our guide points to the brilliant blue plume in the painter's hand.
After a heavy sigh, the woman grimaces. "Well, a long time ago, women used to wear these corsets under their fancy dresses. Some people called them stays. Girls had to start wearing them when they were very young. Maybe eight years old." She looks at Ellie. "How old are you?"
"Twelve," Ellie answers, nibbling her fingernail. It's a habit she's trying to break.
"Twelve," the woman confirms. "So, if you lived in the eighteenth or nineteenth century, you'd be wearing one of these. Your ribs and your lungs and your stomach would all be pinched up tight beneath the stays." She tweaks her face at the thought of it.
"Why?" Sarah asks. Not a speck of hesitation.
"That's the question." The artist smirks. "Why do you think?"
No one comes up with a guess.
"Because women were slaves."
"It's true!" The artist comes closer. "Slaves to fashion. To society. To culture. The men wanted women to have tiny waists, and we gave them what they wanted." She points her feather at our tour guide, the only adult male in the group. "Sometimes, if a man was looking for a wife, he would line up women and wrap his hands around their waists. If his fingers could touch, she might stand a chance."
The girls begin to wrap their midlines, measuring their own worth according to waist size.
The artist notices. "Women were expected to wear these corsets all the time, so they could train their bodies to have this wasp shape."
"Why?" Sarah asks again, leaning in for a closer look.
"Because most women couldn't work, remember? They needed someone to provide for them. Many even slept in these corsets, tightening the straps more and more each day. Some schools would measure their female students, making sure waistlines were shrinking. Like those foot-binding traditions in China. Ever hear of that?"
Ellie looks back at me, her eyes wide with curiosity. "Later," I whisper.
"The things we do to our girls. Torture, I tell you." The painter shakes her head. "Good thing I wasn't alive back then. Put me into one of those things? Might as well wear a straitjacket."
Beth whispers between her teeth, "I'm thinking she could use a little time in a corset."
It's the meanest thing I've ever heard Beth say. I raise one finger, just enough to catch the artist's attention. "I'm still not clear. What's the feather for?"
"Oh yes. I got sidetracked. Sorry." Her eyes light up. "For years, the corset boning was made out of hard, rigid materials. Rods. Reeds. Whalebones. Can you imagine? Being caged into that every day? Even at night?"
Girls peak their brows. Boys shake their heads. Parents sigh.
Excerpted from The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell. Copyright © 2016 Julie Cantrell. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Julie Cantrell is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Into the Free, the 2013 Christy Award winning Book of the Year and recipient of the Mississippi Library Association’s Fiction Award. Cantrell has served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review and is a recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. Her second novel, When Mountains Move, won the 2014 Carol Award for Historical Fiction and, like her debut, was selected for several Top Reads lists. Visit her online at juliecantrell.wordpress.com, Facebook: juliecantrellauthor, and Twitter: @JulieCantrell.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
I cannot say enough good things about this book!! Such an incredible and powerful story! It's Christian Fiction but I recommend it for everyone! There are incredibly dark moments when you don't know how anything positive can come out of anything, but it's very satisfying in the end.
I was definitely curious to try this story out, as I lived just outside of New Orleans years ago (pre-Katrina) and have since had a great soft spot for the city. This one ended up not being terrible but it did have something to it that struck me as a little flat and safe for much of the story. I will say I was utterly shocked at the dark turn Ellie's story took, but aside from that I feel like I've seen many of the elements used here a number of times before. But even if it wasn't the most amazing drama-mystery out there, there were elements I definitely liked. I liked the bits of Sarah's journal entries, which seemed to serve as a nice break when the rest of the story started getting pretty heavy but were also done in a way that wasn't distracting or irritating. I liked that it kept the flow nicely. I also thought the scenes following Hurricane Katrina's arrival -- the scenes of communities banding together -- I thought those were well done and had a realism to them without being too painful to read. I also found myself moved by the passages describing the post-suicide grief process. Carl -- Amanda's husband -- man, he was a tough character to read! It was disturbing to experience his crazy mood fluxes, the way one minute he'd be deep in mad lust-love with Amanda, the next moment (usually when he didn't get his way about something) he'd fly into a crazy rage. The sort of "closure" conversation that happened between Carl and Amanda near the end of the book struck me as a tad ridiculous. I felt like Amanda gave Carl WAY too much credit and too easily dismissed his horrible behavior. In a way, it is realistic in that that's not uncommon behavior for an emotionally abusive relationship (I'm speaking from having been in one myself in the past) but it's still irritating to read that behavior on paper, and I did think Amanda was a little bit of a hyper-portrayal of reality. I also struggled with the way some of the characters were written -- their actual characterizations, I mean. One scene with Ellie especially stood out to me, when she tells her mother "Happiness is a myth." I don't know, that struck me as a bit deep and emo for someone only in 6th grade at the time. While reading this one, I couldn't help thinking how much it reminded me of Elizabeth Smart's kidnapping story. As it turns out, author Julie Cantrell admits in her author afterword that that case was, in fact, a large inspiration for this novel! (Not the only one, but a big one). POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING: This novel addresses the topics of suicide, spousal abuse, and sex trafficking. FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.
Julie Cantrell is storyteller extraordinaire and The Feathered Bone is a book, I won’t forget soon. A parent’s worst nightmare A wife’s most dreaded fear A story straight from today’s headlines And a book I couldn’t put down Amanda Salassi is my favorite character from the book. I really needed and wanted to see this poor woman find happiness. She’s beaten down by life and evil circumstances, yet she somehow finds a way to care for others in their time of need. She’s beautifully written. I loved the Christian content that was apparent but not preachy. The way that each character faces their own crisis of faith and the ways that their pain affects their point of view. The Feathered Bone is a book that is courageous and painful. It tackles topics that are hard to read about but Julie Cantrell does it in a graceful and articulate way. Her prose and her stellar writing had me enthralled from page one. It’s a great book about finding the courage to love again after devastation so deep and so painful, that death seems like the only alternative. The Feathered Bone is a book I eagerly recommend, it’s one that I can say, I would absolutely read again. I received this book from the Fiction Guild and Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest review, which I’ve provided here. https://wordynerdyblog.wordpress.com/2016-book-reviews/the-feathered-bone-by-julie-cantrell/
The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell was a very hard, disturbing read for me. It dealt with three major issues that in my reading do bother me, and this one had them all in one place. However, Julie Cantrell’s writing is amazing and beautiful. Even though this is not my usual read and it was very depressing at times, she wrote about such disturbing circumstances with sensitivity and sympathy. I know that sounds like an oxymoron but she is an author that even though I know the subject matter is not going to be pretty she has the capability of pulling me into the story and making me want to turn the pages. With that being said, this story is a story of hope and I appreciated her heartfelt author notes. I am giving this one five stars even though it is not a happy read, because it still is a good read. I look forward to more of Julie Cantrell’s writing and will not hesitate to read her stories in the future. I received a complimentary copy of this book by Thomas Nelson’s Fiction Guild and the opinions are my own honest ones.
This is one of the best books of the year so far that I've read. Parts of it were so difficult to read and other parts took my breath away. However, Cantrell delivers a story that is real. I thought the setting of the book was interesting. It brought back so many memories of when Katrina hit New Orleans and watching the levees fail and the city flood. It was interesting to read a fictionalized account of how it might have been for people living in the area. However, the story is of the horrible situation that the characters experience. While reading this story, I had no idea where it would end up. There are no clues as to whether Sarah will be found or not. Even Amanda and Carl's relationship status is questionable. Clues are given from the very beginning that their marriage is not the best, but I could not tell if they would reconcile or divorce, or just continue on in the way of their marriage. This is the first book I have ever read by Cantrell, but it won't be the last. She is a master storyteller of human nature and emotion. I can imagine that this book might be too difficult for some readers to get through because it deals with heavy, horrible realities of life. However, it is also a story of the strength of humanity. I really enjoyed it and have already recommended it to fellow readers. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
I wasn't sure what to expect with the title of this book - The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell - but I took a chance anyway. The story still has me in shock so excuse me if this review is slightly garbled. The book held me from page one and is still resonating in my head. This story takes place pre-Katrina, in New Orleans. Our main character is Amanda, whose daughter, Ellie's best friend is Sarah. Amanda steps in as a chaperone on her daughter's sixth-grade Halloween field trip to the Big Easy. When Sarah is abducted, Amanda is guilt-ridden because she feels that she was supposed to be the one watching Sarah when she disappeared and she feels responsible. “We all have a feathered bone. It’s called hope. If we hang on to hope, if we don’t let anybody break us or make us forget who we are, then we will always be free.” Sarah Woven throughout this book is Sarah’s side of the story, which is told through her journal entries written so she can remember who she really is. She addresses her entries to a sparrow that comes to her window to visit. In those writings, the reality of Sarah's situation is is disclosed in a very sensitive way. The lessons that her parents taught her before her abduction allow her to stay remind herself of truth. Sarah's voice, through her journal entries, was full of simple, beautiful wisdom. For me this novel shared a very dark story of mental health, abuse and sexual exploitation. It was really deep but does show readers that life doesn't always go smooth and easy and that trials and fears attack us when we least expect them. Cantrell's characters are real and complex, the story is layered and the themes difficult. Amanda was a completely believable character even when she couldn't fix things. Sometimes her emotions were all over the place and the book overall is an emotional rollercoaster. I loved how faith played a big part for the characters too. The details of each character's storyline are so real that while reading, I almost felt like I was a part of the lives of these characters. This is one of those "hard to put down" kind of books, but when you finally do put the book down, you will continue to think about them all. “It is written to remind us all that we are loved, we have worth, and we are never alone.” Julie Cantrell I received a paperback copy of this book without cost from the publisher through The Fiction Guild, a Thomas Nelson/Zondervan book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Wow!! The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell is not for the feint of heart! I really was hooked from the beginning. This was an all-night read! Amanda Salassi, social worker, is on a field trip with her daughter Ellie's sixth-grade class to Mardi Gras World in New Orleans. Everything is going along normally until the headcount as the group prepares to leave. One child short. And that one child is Ellie's best friend, Sarah! Julie Cantrell did a marvelous job of pulling me into her story. It wasn't even that I did not want to leave the story, which I did not. It was more that I could not leave. I had to see it through to the end, no matter what! I recommend this book to any that enjoy true life drama. This is definitely an adult read. No graphic details or vulgarity, but strong thematic elements. I received this book from The Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review.
A hard book to read from beginning to end, but not for the writing, but instead the issues that Cantrell tackles with this book. From Katrina, child trafficking, spousal abuse, to survivor's guilt, this book deals with it all in the most delicate way and even with all of this in one book, it didn't feel overwhelming. I can't go on and on about this book because I would probably spoil it, so I will keep this short and sweet, but will say that I loved it. I loved that the author interjected little moments from the child who is missing in the most creative way. I also loved how she skipped time cleverly, but as the reader I didn't feel like I was missing anything. I felt as though I was getting all the right moments in their lives to make a full story. I will definitely be looking into Julie Cantrell's other works and you may see them here on this blog soon.
The Feathered Bone was an emotional read for me. I knew the premise, and as a former teacher who is familiar with field trips and the constant worry about losing a student, I fully related to it. Julie Cantrell did an amazing job of exploring the emotional fallout on everyone involved. Because of her skillful writing ability, I found myself weepy multiple times in the book. At the end of the book, however, there was an uplifting hopeful message that brought it all together for me in a most satisfactory manner. Add to your summer reading list! I received a copy of this book from the Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest review.
I'm captivated by Julie Cantrell's writing, and didn't want any prior information about this book, so I preordered The Feathered Bone with no knowledge of what the book would reveal. Very difficult topics are broached throughout the book, with a depth of reality that is heart wrenching, emotional, and disturbing. The first four chapters of the book made me extremely uneasy as a classroom of children touring some of the highlights of New Orleans sent my anxiety level skyrocketing. I immediately sensed the presence of evil, and the Mardi Gras atmosphere sent chills down my spine. A garish, clown-like atmosphere of illusions and bizarre activities came to mind. Descriptive within tactful parameters of very difficult topics, those revelations are balanced by a strong message of faith and hope. This book is an experience in the hard core realities of life at its bottom line. Profound and powerful themes are strong features of The Feathered Bone. Characters are believable and well developed, and events represented are authentic. My impression of Ms. Cantrell's most recent book is one of strength and immense compassion for humanity. I highly recommend this book. In lieu of revealing spoilers or information that may take away from your reading experience I will not go into further details.
The Feathered Bone is about every wife and mother's worst nightmares come true. And just when you think that things can't possibly get worse they do. This is a story of struggling to survive. Of learning to just do the next thing even when you can't imagine going on. This is a story of having faith and losing faith and in the end realizing that the Father was holding you in His hands through all of it. While I would agree with many of the other reviewers that this is a novel filled with heavy and dark subject matter it is also a story of hope and promise. Julie Cantrell takes on the topic of human trafficking with sensitivity while still allowing the reader to experience the true horror of the situation. As is usual in most stressful situations the disappearance of Sarah seems to be the catalyst to the downward spiral of many other situations in Amanda's life. The effect on her marriage and her own daughter is gut wrenching and all too real. But again the overriding message of God's ultimate plan in our lives is what resonated with me. The fact that He is with us in not only the good times but also the unimaginable nightmares is what will stick with me. This book will obviously be on my top reads of the year list. If you like fiction that mimics life and leaves you grateful to a merciful God then this book should be on your reading list. Cantrell continues to write stories that break your heart while pointing to the Healer. I personally can't wait for her next novel. I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.
This was a very well written story which I truly enjoyed reading. There were a lot of subjects covered in this book much of which took place before and during Katrina. So not only these day to day issues, an abduction, an unfaithful husband, a divorce, a suicide, etc, you had the total wrath of a category 5 hurricane. There was definitely a lot of people questioning their beliefs and one major person who should have been showed more courage than a whole group of people. The author wrote a story that had me glued to the pages and I just could not put this book down. Thanks to Fiction Guild and Thomas Zondervan for sending me this book in hopes that I would read and review it. It's definitely a winner in my book.
Many times the title of a book is vital to the story. In early days, whale bones were used as stays in women's corsets, but having no give, they often broke. Hence, feathers were substituted and had the flex needed to remain useful. The Feathered Bone was hard for me to get into because of knowing a child would be abducted. I am glad I didn't give up because it was an excellent book, taking events from the headlines and turning them into a new story. It is a sad story with joy in the end.
This incredible story will leave you on the edge of your seat. It is incredibly well written and feels less like a piece of fiction and more like something ripped straight from the news. Once you start reading this book you don't want to put it down, you need to follow this journey. The character development is amazing, these characters are in no way two dimensional and neither are their stories. It is a very intense, very emotionally raw book. Cantrell does not sugar coat it, she doesn't skim over these issues that are often glossed over because they are issues that we often believe could not happen to us. Many of the topics in this book are heavy topics that people only whisper about, she explores these topics and deals with them in a real way. This is the first book of Cantrell's that I have read and I am hooked. I truly believe everyone high school age and over should read this book. I read this book within a day and is one of the few books that I will reread multiple times. Often Christian Fiction gets categorized as fluff and not in-depth. She has so much going on in this book that it is one of those books that I will have to emotionally recover from; get a grip on reality, while never forgetting the story. The way she tells her story, you can't help but to get lost in it, to be impacted by it, and to walk away changed.
Today I'm reviewing The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell. I have to admit this isn't a typical read for me and probably not a book I would have chosen for myself. I was given a copy from the Fiction Guild in exchange for an honest review. After reading it I will admit I liked it and I am glad that I got to read it. I should warn you though, this book needs to come with a warning label "You will go through a whole box of Kleenex before you reach the end". In the Feathered Bone we get to follow three friends Amanda, Beth and Raelynn as they navigate life in Louisiana. Even their kids are friends which sounds corny but it isn't. You can feel the love between both sets of friends, so much so that they don't feel like friends they feel like family. Sarah and Ellie, Beth and Amanda's daughters respectively, are often mistaken for sisters. The Girls as I like to call them are chaperoning their kids field trip to New Orleans when tragedy strikes. As they board the bus to head home a head count reveals they are one short. They race around looking for her sure that it is a mistake and maybe she is still in the restroom. It isn't long before they discover the tragedy is real and Sarah has just vanished. I loved how the author described New Orleans as well as other parts of Louisiana. You can picture yourself walking down the streets enjoying the sites and smells. You can picture Cafe du Mode and smell the beignets. You can picture the tourist and locals alike getting dressed up and ready for Halloween. I also love how real the characters were. I felt like I knew them and I found myself rooting for them to over come the grief and find Sarah. Except Carl, I didn't like him from the moment he was introduced. He was malicious, callous and down right hateful at times. I just didn't understand how Amanda the sweet social worker who would help anybody ended up with such a toad! Cantrell also addresses some heavy topics in the book sex trafficking, divorce, and your faith being tested to name a few. These are all serious topics but she managed to address them in a very human and caring way. She was very tactful in her approach and honestly in some parts I just wept openly. Human trafficking is very real and it just breaks my heart to even contemplate what these sweet innocent people go through. She gives details without going to far. Would your faith stand the test if your child were kidnapped? Would you be able to find comfort in God and continue to believe even years down the road that God has your best interest at heart and He hasn't left your side? I questioned my own faith reading this book. I felt like I had an insiders look at what happens when a child goes missing and let me tell you, I just don't know. I'd love to believe my faith would hold out and offer me comfort through such a horrific deal but I don't think anyone really knows until they experience it. On top of trying to locate a missing Sarah, Amanda and Carl have marriage trouble. I have to admit I wasn't rooting for them to make it. He was abusive even if it wasn't physical and I couldn't for the life of me understand why she didn't see it, especially with her being a social worker. Like most victims she tends to make excuses and try to apologize for his often extremely rude behavior. I was rooting for her just not him. I tried and I tried but I could never find it in myself to like Carl. This is a great read and I would recommend it.
Emotionally moving story that you won't be able to put down.... The Feathered Bone By Julie Cantrell Her world seemed perfect. Close friends that she had had since childhood. A loving husband. A daughter who is pride and joy. But in an instant her life comes undone. A class field trip to New Orleans was a perfect day until one student went missing. Amanda Salassi promised her best friend that she would keep their girls in her sight. But a few minutes was all it took and Sarah was gone. Ellie and Sarah had been best friends forever and Sarah's loss propels Ellie into a world of isolation, depression, and guilt. As her daughter disappears into her pain Amanda's marriage seemingly implodes. Finding Sarah is their one hope in the midst of their grief and guilt. But when the region is devastated by Katrina hope slowly starts to slip away. This is a story in which historical events over the last few years are combined in such a way as to create a moving and compelling story. Depression, abusive situations, trafficking, abduction, and a natural disaster - these events take place over several years so that this book does not read like a disaster movie with everything taking place over a series of hours or days. Be sure to have a box of tissue nearby as you read through The Feathered Bone. Tragedy and the triumph of the human spirit are portrayed with a surprising parallel to a bird feather. This is a book you won't want to miss reading. I was provided a copy of this book by the Fiction Guild in exchange for my honest review.
When a class field trip ends tragically after one of the 12-year-old girls goes missing it becomes a story of unbelief that this could be happening. That a child could be stolen and possibly dead! This story of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity certainly did have to draw on faith and love. This book pulled at your heart and mind taking you into the hearts and lives of these families who were spinning off kilter even before the missing. You will find this a book with hard topics, but it will open your eyes to what is lurking out there in the dark places of humanity. I was gifted a copy from the Fiction Guild for review.
Pray. Trust God. Be strong. WOW! This is the first time I have read anything by Julie Cantrell. The book covered many topics that we hear about each day in the news. Human trafficking, marital infidelity, depression, suicide and faith in Jesus. As a Christian, we need to be praying each day about these things in this fallen world. The author's description of New Orlean is right on. I can hear the horses, smell the fresh beignets and feel the rain. This was a school field trip that turned into a parent's worse nightmare. We each have our own feathered bone called hope. Even though the book is fiction, I found myself drawen into the characters lives. Run, don't walk to the bookstore. Find some spare time, I promise you will not want to the put the book down.
The Feathered Bone is a good read. This novel covers many emotions, including bringing the reader to tears at many scenes. The grief the characters experienced was real and was quite hard to get through. I definitely believe this a must read. 4 1/2 stars.
I received this books for a honest review from Fiction Guild. What a great story and also a wonderful storyline. Amanda is chaperoning her daughters 6th grade class to New Orleans with 2 of her other friends and their children and other parents and the teacher, then have gone to the Float museum and had lunch after riding on the ferry and then shopping in the French Quarter and go to get biguettes and use the bathroom before they have to take the bus back to school which is about 2 hours away, they are partnered up and her daughter and her best friend are last in line and they tease her calling her a helicopter because she hovers to she goes to help the teacher and the girls get separated and her daughter's friend disappears. Amanda is scared because it is her best friends daughter who she promised to watch because she had to get back early to help with a wedding at their church. They call their hometown police chief who is a friend, the NOPD police and search for her but she is gone. They go days trying to find her. And try to get back to some normalcy but it doesn't work and they mark everything in the future from that date. The day she disappeared, the day of Hurricane Katrina, the day Amanda's husband left, the day Amanda's daughter can't take it anymore and kills herself and the day Sarah comes back. I loved this story thinking that I was someone looking from the outside in when Katrina hit and did all the damage it and what those families must have felt like.
The Feathered Bone is a fictional account on human trafficking and its aftermath. The story centers around a young girl by the name of Sarah, who was abducted during a school field trip in New Orleans on Amanda's watch. The premise of the book focuses on her sudden disappearance and the negative affects it has on everyone. In the midst of searching for Sarah, there were other stories being told. One about Amanda's marriage to Carl, who was abusive towards her. He wound up abandoning her and their daughter Ellie when they needed him most. The irony is that Amanda counseled and helped many domestic abuse victims, yet she was unable to help herself, her daughter or her marriage. The Feathered Bone is a sad, but redemptive story about hope, faith, love and forgiveness.
Imagine your worst nightmare - you’re chaperoning a school field trip with your child, your best friend’s child and the unthinkable happens. Your best friend’s child disappears from the group and no one can find her. Imagine the guilt you feel for letting this 12-year-old out of your sight. Amanda lives with the guilt every day of Sarah’s five-year disappearance. Her daughter, Sarah’s best friend struggles with her own depression and survivor’s guilt. The families involved search tirelessly for Sarah and we get snippets from Sarah during her capture and how she copes with a horror she’s never known and yet somehow Sarah keeps her faith and belief that her parents will someday find her. While difficult to deal with the negativity in a large part of the book, there is a silver lining. This was a very good read and I highly recommend it. I reviewed this book for Thomas Nelson, Fiction Guild. It was not required that I give a positive review, but solely to express my own thoughts and opinions of this book, which I have done.
Wow! What a book!! Shocking, terrifying, sad, happy, some full of faith in God, some struggling with their faith in God, just a huge range of emotions in this one book. This book has some great characters! I have never before read anything by Julie Cantrell, but she is a really good author. This book is about kidnapping, slavery, sex trafficking, abuse, suicide, but also hope in Christ. It is not too graphic, yet it opens up your eyes to what is going on all around us. In some ways I had a hard time reading this book because I got really into it, which I tend to do when I read a good book, and in some ways it is a really hard book to read, but I can tell you one thing, it made me see how much we as Christians need to be praying about these things going on in our world. I know that I have added things to my regular prayer list that I never prayed for before. I recommend that you read this book, even if it is hard, because you need to hear it, even if you don't want to!
“That’s what we have to remember. Light defeats darkness. Never the other way around.” Where do I even start? This is one of those evocative, straight to the heart kind of stories where once you turn the final page, you have to take a few moments to gather yourself and let all that just happened truly sink in. I had planned to read a couple of chapters before going to bed one night and then ended up staying up all night. I simply could not stop. Have I mentioned this one hits you deep in your heart? It’s because this book (again so beautifully written) deals with topics that happen all around us. Julie deals with these topics and realities no person or parent should have to go through, but do. They’re terrible and horrendous, they cut people deep, but through amazing grace people are able to rise up again. The characters are beautifully written and you feel all they feel. You’re completely drawn in. This is an emotional journey. I won’t lie to you. But it’s also real. The stuff that goes on in this novel, is the stuff that happens to people around the world. There’s some hard things that happens to us and those we love. This world is broken and fallen. But this also isn’t it. I was emotionally drained by the end of the book, but it’s worth it. Though her beautiful writing style and storytelling, you’ll be reminded of hope. (Then you read the author’s notes and even more so). And this cover? Perfection. What’s a recent read that has hit straight to the heart for you? (Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review) Originally posted at: http://booksandbeverages.org/2016/02/08/the-feathered-bone-by-julie-cantrell-book-review/