of Standing Strong
Reviewed by Rel Mollet
Standing Strong by Donna Fleisher
"...a fitting ending to a series about some unique and strong women committed to faith, families and community."
Former soldier Chris McIntyre once again finds herself in a war zone. Not in a far off land but in the heart of her new found home and community. A war in which she is weaponless and afraid. An automatic machine gun, in the hands of a gang member, points directly at Chris who stands her ground despite her internal panic and desire to flee. Her warrior heart stays her steps as she takes the abuse and humiliation intended for a younger boy being pursued by profane and angry young men, proudly calling themselves Eastsiders.
Erin Mathis and her husband Scott willingly provide medical services to the Kimberley Square community but with their baby daughter to consider they hope, along with Chris, Cappy and Bettema that they have seen the last of the out of town gang. But the Eastsiders leave a message, their tags telling the story –– no one stares them down like Chris did and gets away with it.
Jason Sloane wants nothing more than to protect Chris from harm, but her determination to stand up for others and her decision to put God first in her life, leaves him devastated. God did him no favours when he lost his wife and child, and he has sacrificed enough - walking away seems his only option.
Donna Fleisher finishes her standout series with a tale of life in the urban jungle, the threat that drugs and gangs bring to those living in the inner cities and the compassion and sacrifices made by people wanting to make a difference. Don't expect flowery wording or pretty descriptions in Standing Strong. Donna's prose is gritty and authentic, providing an accurate portrayal of living life under the threat of urban violence and conflict. While the "gang speak" used in the dialogue is on occasion a little overwhelming, it provides an authenticity to this glimpse into the world of gangs, and the attraction they have for young wannabes. We also see the stranglehold they have over reluctant members, and their finished product - hardened criminals.
Woven throughout this thought provoking story is its greatest strength, the progression of Jason and Chris's tentative relationship. Their attraction is palpable yet the hurdles they face in taking their friendship a step further from Chris' abused past to Jason's tragic family loss, are not simplified and the characters struggles are emotive and heart wrenching. This complex look at two individuals dealing with deep grief and hurt in their lives while attempting to connect with each other is powerful. Standing Strong is a fitting ending to a series about some unique and strong women committed to faith, families and community ~ well done, Donna!
Rel Mollet is a lawyer, wife and mother of three young daughters and lives in Melbourne, Australia. Reading has been her passion since childhood. She is a Book Club Co-ordinator and has her own website ~ relzreviewz ~ dedicated to reviews and author interviews with the sole aim to support authors writing from a Christian worldview. She believes Sir Francis Bacon's (1561 - 1626) creed, "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body".