I am a bit biased when it comes to John Shors, because he is just so nice, and has not once, but twice, taken the time to reply my ramblingly gushing e-mail about his works. I have all of his books; they are little jewels I carry with me. I confess I am drawn to his particularly beautiful writing, because they are about traditions close to my heart. I pre- ordered this book knowing the theme before hand, so you can imagine my anxiety… As those of you who know me are quite aware, my obsession with books, borders on the slightly insane. So when this book arrived, (of course I spent a sickening amount of time checking my mail box), I waited until I came back home from surgery to begin… I was unprepared for some horrid nausea amid searing pain, recovery really is a pain in the neck – quite literally. Still a set back or two wasn’t going to put me off…
I must say I loved every page of the book, I sort of knew I would – from the beautiful hearts of the island dwellers at Ko Phi Phi, to the complexity of family loyalty, from the black and white depictions of flowing water within the pages of the book, to the stunning visual of crystal blue waters and endless stretches of pristine white sand.
The story telling begins at the ‘Rainbow resort on Ko Phi Phi, Thailand, Lek and Sarai owners of the resort are simple, kind and compassionate people. Their bungalows are not luxurious, their sheets not a 600 thread count silky soft sateen, they can neither offer air conditioning nor gourmet meals, and when tourists flock to the island, the rainbow resort is not a place they usually consider. But they have “heart” and three gorgeous children, Suchin( a head strong intelligent daughter) Niran ( a son who wants to be a scientist) and Achara a darling baby with a mop of black hair. Although Lek is the head of the family, he is impeded by injury and a lack of resources. he repairs, mends and together with his son and daughter walks to the boats daily to tempt tourists into trying out their resort and his wife’s food. Sarai is the strength of the family, she does everything; she cooks, cleans, nurses her baby and offers massages to their customers without taking a breather. All of this to keep their precious resort afloat. They have virtually nothing but the bare bones to offer and yet Sarai cooks with a flavor I could almost taste. Their food alone would make me visit them.
They take in an American man ‘Patch,’ who is as sweet as can be, sort of like a brother to Suchin and Niran who adore him. In return for his accommodation, Patch has offered to help them build up the resort with the hope that more tourists would find their simple hospitality attractive. Patch also hides a secret from his gracious and benevolent Thai friends, although they are aware he is running from something or someone. Into this mix arrives his brother Ryan and Ryan’s girlfriend Brooke. Also keeping things light, offering words of wisdom is the matriarch ( Sarai’s mother) Yai. It is 2004 and Christmas is almost around the corner. Patch’s brother has combined his holiday with a personal mission to help his brother but he goes about it the wrong way and their disagreement becomes isolating as his relationships seemingly fall apart . Sarai and her family deal with their own burdens as the author examines the complex relationships not only as a whole but as individuals. Once you figure out the timing of the story, it is easy to become aware of the life changing event about to take place. The event was very personal to me, so I was practically holding my breath as I slowed my reading down and turned the pages, I felt every wound and every tear. My hand over my mouth, I finished the book, mentally constructing another note to John Shors for creating such a marvelous piece of fiction. For those of us who knew of people affected, it is quite an emotional tugging, but take heart that the end felt like a proper goodbye rather than an abrupt leave – taking. Well done John Shors! well done.