Category Archives: NARROW ROAD SERIES UPDATES
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Book Review by Gwendolyn Elliott
Roseway The Road that Never Ends – Review by Gwendolyn Elliott
Introduction – I will be speaking about the characters because that is what stands out to me about the books.
In the first book, Roseway listens to a sermon. The story in the sermon is of a child returning home (prodical son) despite misbehaviour parallels, the story reminds her of her friend Ripley. Roseway wishes that her friend could have stayed to listen to the sermon and learn from it. I feel that the Narrow Road series is like this. For each one of us, there is a story in the series that parallels our own lives if we only look for it because the characters and events are so relatable.
It is a major pet peeve of mine to see a great lack of real, dynamic characters in books and the media. So many characters are so flat. Good or bad. Hero or villain. I have always said that I would love to sink my teeth in to a story about a seemingly pure figure who is dealing with serious inner evils. That is real life. In each and every one of us there is good and evil and they fight a constant battle. For some of us it is more of a battle and some of us are able to find peace.
The characters in this series are very real. We can all connect to the characters on some level because of the relatable psychology woven through the stories.
In a sense, Roseway is a coming-of-age story. Roseway herself is the maiden archetype, trying to find herself and “grow up.” But instead of there being a fairytale moment where we see her as a woman and she rides off in to the sunset to live happily ever after, her growth is a never ending process. Her happily-ever-after is an adventure of growth and self-discovery. Personally, I connect with Roseway. Clearly I am young and female and going through the same stage of my life stepping in to my adult shoes. I am questioning who I am, questioning my upbringing and my life to this point, questioning my faith and trying to find my way in the world. Like Roseway, girls my age feel the pull from many angles and struggle to figure out where to direct their attention, which path to choose. Sometimes that involves temptation and danger.
For an older reader, Roseway’s story may be more have more nostalgic value looking back at a time past, recognizing daughters and young relatives going through the same thing. I think everyone has gone through a similar struggle to Roseway because we all have to grow up. She is a very relatable character whose spirit inspires the people in her life, and the reader.
Ripley – The Road to Acceptance
Ripley is the character that I feel battles with her inner demons the most. She is the teen angst character. She is frustrated and angry with herself, the people around her and the world at large. When Roseway finds her, she has largely given up hope for the good in humanity. She is pessimistic, jaded and bitter. She is very hard-headed and has trouble taking in new ideas and different perspectives. Ripley is fun because she often acts as the devil on your shoulder.
At first she is very opposed to religion of any sort. We all know people like this. The sort that say, “Oh no that’s not for me. I don’t want to wake up early to hear someone tell me that everything I’m doing is wrong.”
But, little by little Ripley finds her way. She learns the truth about God’s love and she learns to accept things in her life. Her biggest battle at first is learning to let the past go. Like MANY people I know, so much energy is wasted on negative emotions even though nothing we can think or feel will ever change the past. I think about my own mother who still rants about her marriage and brings up events from over 20 years ago that do nothing but upset her.
Ripley has to confront the demons of her past throughout the books. Roseway encourages her to do her best to reconcile with her estranged family. Fortunately, everyone makes an effort to work together to bring about positive change. Through God’s love and His lessons they are able to let the past go and move forward together. I wish that everyone could learn from Ripley’s story.
Her story doesn’t end there though. Although her personality remains the same hard-headed fighter, she changes her lifestyle so drastically that she ends up building her career around the work of God. Her life mission is to bring the Lord to those who need him most. She has interesting adventures with God, romance, relationships and death. Throughout everything she remains strong and faithful to her own beliefs. Her challenges are the most dramatic and exciting out of all the characters. I could not believe what I was reading and could not stop myself from turning page after page to see how it would unfold.
Big Joe reminds me of a man I know who seems completely unfulfilled. He is never satisfied, and almost nothing makes him happy. He is that traditional father stereotype: emotionally closed, hard-headed, uncaring and unfeeling. The sort that would never tell his wife or his daughter that he loves them. Overall, a tragic character that leaves me thinking “if only…”
His actions drive the events and the actions of others. He is the villain of the story. The shadow in an otherwise sunny day. He destroys what the innocence and light that he touches. There is no chance that he will ever turn his life around unless there is a big change. And there is. And we see Big Joe for what he truly is. A deeper character than just a simple “bad guy”. Will he ever find redemption? This character is meant to be hated, but he is entertaining to read because there is a lot to think about and really something to sink your teeth in to. He is just so evil!
Jenn – The Road of Sacrifice
Jenn is possibly my favourite book. It plays out like a detective story: lots of sneaky business and parallel storylines, with danger around every turn. It is a web of interconnected characters, lies, emotions and deceit.
Jenn and Ripley’s sister are both entangled with criminal activity and drugs. The pull for drugs is always the connection to money and power. Just last night I was speaking to someone who was explaining to me how he made so much money selling drugs and the luxuries he bought with it. I was baffled. I would never have expected it from a person like him who seems like a genuinely good person. For someone like Jen who is living on the streets and doesn’t have many options, criminal means of income is very appealing. For Ripley’s sister, she gets involved with more organized crime, but the pull is the same. It’s all about money. And it’s a slippery slope. It looks like you can go up, but the only direction you travel is down.
What is the answer? What can pull you out of a dark situation like this? Criminal punishment? The fear of danger? I doubt it. What cures the situation in Jen’s book is hard working, loving family members and friends. I was listening to a radio program last week that was talking about how the so-called “war on drugs” in America has reached a trillion dollars in spending. And it hasn’t helped. What has helped is getting people the proper family and support that they need. Friends of mine who have overcome drugs and alcohol were never punished under the law. They turned their lives around because their families helped. Someone they loved spoke up and worked hard to fight. For the friend I mentioned, he turned his life around because there was a drug-related death in the family.
Jenn’s book is the same. The law enforcement is corrupt and it is difficult to figure out who to trust. Yet again, God’s love prevails. A crisis brings the issues to the forefront of family life and everyone pulls together in the nick of time.
The last character I will talk about, just briefly, is Camay. To me she is the motherly or grandmotherly figure of the books. She is Roseway’s guide and gentle moral voice. There are other mothers in the book, but to me Camay holds the wisdom of age. It is people like this that I always look for in my life. People to learn from who are a living example of their own values. Camay is a caring and touching figure.
I would like to close by bringing up the concept of the boy band. Boy bands are specifically chosen so that every girl can have a favourite. I know that you will find that in these books. You will find a character who reflects an image of yourself. You will find a character who reflects your mother, best friend, or someone else you know. And in it the stories will run close enough to your own experiences for you to learn something and take something away.
Rebecca’s comments from book Launch April 28, 2012
Rebecca’s comments from book Launch April 28, 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen, family and friends,
Thank you for coming and sharing with me in the launch of the Narrow Road Series. I’m very excited to share with you a little about the inspirations of these books. Just over seven years ago I published my first nonfiction book “When Time Stands Still under the pen name Rebecca Hickson. Although the book Roseway is fiction, I slipped it into the back of the book When Time Stands Still as a preview of a book to come. At that time all I had written for Roseway was a chapter. Here I am seven years later with three new fiction books in the series.
Like I said, the first book in the series – Roseway the Road that Never Ends began as a chapter. One day I just started writing about this young adult sitting in a meadow. The name Rose popped into my head, probably because I love roses. To me a rose represents something passionate, loving, beautiful, fragrant, and vibrant. If you ever pick up a rose stem you quickly learn that they can be very prickly even make you bleed.
There was something vulnerable and innocent about Rose. A naïve young adult who seemed so very lost, alone and desperate to find home, trying to fill this incredible void in her life. I remember feeling that way myself as a teenager. I’m sure that some of my own experiences and feelings of that age inspired this character Rose who desperately wanted to find her way home. Find her way. That was it. Rose “find her way” equals Roseway the title. Her name … the meaning of it… just fit. And I pictured her journey being like a road that never ends. She would experience many trials along the way.
I couldn’t leave her completely alone. So, I gave her a relationship with God. She needed something good in her life amongst all the bad; something to motivate her and direct her along that narrow road. Whether she would always accept what the father God instructed her while walking along that road – was up to her. Why was she in this desperate meadow praying? Who or what was making her life feel like a dry barren place?
To this young woman Roseway, it was her captor, a character who would be so overbearing, harsh, and abusive in some ways. I named him Big Joe. Her captor would be someone she feared, someone who made her feel hatred. He was a man she desperately wanted to escape. Big Joe a simple man, uneducated and whose character was moulded from his own horrible childhood. At the same time, I felt there needed to be balance. For example there would be two males in Roseway’s life. Big Joe who had a dependant love for her. He was obsessive, twisted, un-compassionate and harsh, while the other male would represent a compassionate, caring, nurturing, giving, loving man with Godly morals and yet with human limitations. (Not perfect) but like a prince charming in comparison to Big Joe.
I was inspired to show within the story of these books the dark side of people, sin within a wide spectrum. Big Joe moved from one sinful choice to another. I needed to bring the reader to hate this character as much as Roseway hated this man. There is a reason for this. Many of us have our own Big Joe’s in our lives. How would I ever bring the reader into that dark place and then show them the way out, to find that place of love and forgiveness, rather than hatred. So that was the challenge and basically that is what inspired the first book Roseway.
The second book in the series – Ripley the Road to Acceptance
I always liked this saying that I heard many years ago. I’m not even sure where I heard it. “Be like a pebble thrown into a pond that makes a ripple that goes on and on and on.” The thought of this ripple in a pond going on and on, made me think of a character like that ripple. That ripple inspired the name Ripley. She would be the one to make a difference. She would become like that pebble in Roseway’s life and eventually in the lives of her friends and the people God brought into her life.
A pebble is hard, it’s made of stone. Ripley would be strong in ways where Roseway was weak. Roseway would bring out the softness of Ripley’s tough exterior. At times, Ripley was like a pillar of strength for Roseway. I’ve always wanted a best friend and I’m sure these desires inspired the development of these two characters and the kindred friendship they would share; A friendship that would also be spiritually connected. It would become evident that God was the center of that friendship. At the same time I wanted my characters to be relatable. Definitely not perfect. They would both have their own set of issues to work through and relationships to reconcile. The characters just kept inventing themselves.
The storyline for Ripley starts out rather funny. I had no storyline written down. I just went from working fulltime to part-time with the aspirations of writing more books. It was my first day off work. I was sitting on my front deck and not knowing what to write or how to get started. Now, when I read the introduction to Ripley, I laugh thinking about how it began. I was just writing about my new home, the school of Zion. Sure I took a few tidbits from my own life and embellished them into some romantic setting. When I did this a new character developed named Camay. The character Camay is really named after a bar of soap. Do you remember those romantic Camay commercials in black and white? Don’t raise your hands. I didn’t know where else to go with Camay so in entered Roseway into her life. And the saga continued.
The book Ripley begins in a very romantic way. However, life is not always a nice romantic fairytale with happy endings. I wish life was. The book Ripley is jammed packed full of topics that will make many readers squirm. Some of the topics within this book makes me squirm and I wrote them. Many people suffer from the emotional experiences mentioned within this book. That is why I included them in the storyline as to really help people search for God’s love and freedom and no longer live under condemnation. These books have a mature content. Some of these topics would include rape, incest, infidelity, abortion, drug addictions, homosexuality, crime within the justice system and murder. I told you they are heavy topics. They are relevant topics headlining our news today.
Over the years I have met many women who have had abortions and they have spoken of their experience and the emotional trauma they went home to deal with. I volunteered at the Newmarket Crisis Pregnancy Center some years ago. Now called TLC. They have programs which can help women.
I know of a Free me to Live recovery bible study for women who need emotional healing or help with the effects of not only abortion but also incest, rape and other topics mentioned within these books. That is where I learned about the dumpster called denial which is mentioned in the first book Roseway. I used the dumpster of denial as a symbol.
The third book in the series Jenn the Road of Sacrifice.
Writing this book was the most challenging of the three. For the longest time I did not know what to write. I had a powerful first paragraph with a punch. I had to build a story around one character. In the process show the justice system to be corrupt.
This book is really about corruption in high and low places. The catalyst is drugs, money, power and greed. My book shows that it doesn’t matter what income bracket you live in, drugs and addiction do not care about your bank account. Often the higher your bank account the more expensive the drugs which can be purchased.
Jenn the Road of Sacrifice is about trying to find freedom from addiction, from crime, prostitution, corruption and finding justice. No one is really exempt from the temptation in the world. I wanted to show that a well-meaning Christian who walks that narrow road can also struggle. They may have to make some difficult choices. Many of these difficult choices involve our emotions – heart connectors.
God’s ways are not always our ways. Sometimes God does not answer our prayers according to the way would like them to be answered. Things are not always as they appear. Some of the characters face this dilemma, struggle with their faith and have many questions for God. Sometimes it is difficult to give answers to others when that prayer does not seem to be answered in the way we had hoped.
The most important message I want to give to the reader in this book is a sense of compassion toward others who are less fortunate, toward others who really struggle with addictions and people like the character Sarah who was at a dark place in her life, working in prostitution and addicted to drugs.
Like many youth today, at some point in her life Sarah was pulled off the narrow road and deceived by what may have looked enticing at the moment, but in reality it pulled her into a life she just lived from day-to-day, taking drugs to fill that void to mask the pain so that she could continue in that downward cycle where she felt she could do nothing else.
I wanted to show that we can all walk a road of sacrifice for people. Sometimes it just takes someone like Jenn or Jim or Ripley, one individual person to show people like Sarah that there is another road they can walk. Will it be an easy road? We don’t know. Eventually that road will lead to a better place, a healthier way of life. When we reach out in life and help others in the same way we ourselves have been helped along the road, it makes a difference. Pay it forward.
I took a First Nation’s young woman named Jenn and placed her on that Narrow Road. In the freedom she experienced she gained a desire to love and care enough to step out and make a choice to help Sarah find freedom. It is a parallel to what God the Father has done for each of us; in that He made atonement for all the things we do which keep us in bondage. In the bible it is called sin. God’s son Christ Jesus walked that road of sacrifice to give freedom to Sarah, Jenn, Ripley, and Joseph, Big Joe, me, you, the rapist, the drug user, and the liar. The cross upon which Jesus sacrificed His life for our lives is that bridge between you and a Heavenly Father. He is the bridge from where we are today to where we can be tomorrow – walking that Narrow Road in a relationship with God the Father through none other than His Son Christ Jesus.
Book launch a great success
narrowroad1 Click on link to see the Snap Newspaper write-up and picture taken at the book launch.
On Saturday evening we enjoyed an amazing book launch for the three books in the Narrow Road Series. I’m sure that many who attended left changed after hearing the amazing testimony of how God’s love and grace works in the life of this young woman Sarah Hamilton. Her real life testimony parallels so much to the fictional characters within my books. I only met Sarah a month ago when I was just in the planning stage for the book launch. It is amazing to me to know that God directed Sarah into my path.
Over the evening, it was just so evident that God was at work, pulling the program together. I did not know what Sarah would share. I did not know what editor Gwendolyn Elliot would say regarding the characters of the books or what insights she would speak about according to her perspective on the books. I had my own script of things I would tell about the books. When all was said and done everything shared and spoken all just flowed together. The message was one of inspiration and hope for all.
Sarah gave a testimony of how God opened her eyes one star filled night as she looked up into the sky. On that dark night in her life, the light of Jesus shined bright. In tears as she told of her experience, she could barely speak of what that felt like in that moment. God truly called her back to walk the narrow road with Him. Sarah was lost in a life of drugs, sex, depression with very little will to live. On that night God transformed her life. She now serves her Saviour with sincerity, love and compassion. I will be posting her testimony in the near future. Please check in with this blog to hear her testimony. Amazing!
I would publicly like to thank the entire Word Alive Press publishing team who worked with me on the publishing of the Narrow Road Series. It was wonderful working with such professionals who truly care about getting the word of God in print. It was a learning curve publishing three books in the series together rather than one at a time.
Thank you Gwendolyn Elliot for speaking at the launch and giving us your insights into the characters of each book. It was nice to hear your perspective, being that you are of the age of many of the characters within the books. I appreciate your edits, constructive comments. Great job! I will also post the entire audio of the Book Launch and Gwendolyn’s comments.
Thanks to Maegan Hickson, Joanne Gray and my husband Danny for helping me with the short reading of the book. I now know who will be my actors when we make a movie of these books. Academy award performance.
Now onward we go. Pass on the great news about the new release of Roseway the Road that Never Ends – Ripley the Road to Acceptance and Jenn the Road of Sacrifice.
Thanks to all,
Blessings, Rebecca Robinson