Straining Forward

Minh Phuong Towner's Story

Author: Michelle Layer Rahal
Narrator: Karen Gundersen
Length: 12 hours 40 minutes
Publisher: Xulon Press
Released: Mar. 4, 2021
Genre: Memoir

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Synopsis

In the early morning hours of January 31, 1968, New Year fireworks gave way to gunfire and bombs. Eleven-year-old Minh watched in horror as her father and two siblings were gunned down by the Vietcong in their backyard. Though she escaped death that night, abuse, prison, and torture would follow. A dramatic escape by boat on the South China Sea finally takes Minh out of communist Vietnam, but the tragedy of her childhood would continue to haunt her.

From France to Australia to the United States, Minh struggles to find her place in a country she does not call home, in a world she does not understand. While each journey leads her to question God’s very existence and purpose for her life, they also draw her into a closer relationship with Him and toward a vocation in ministry.

Minh’s powerful story of escape, as well as dangerous and unhealthy relationships, is told with raw sincerity. Straining Forward is a riveting spiritual journey of hope and healing that reminds readers that we are more than victims of circumstance and that even in our loneliest and most desolate moments, we are never truly alone.

Althea's Review

4 Stars

This audiobook was provided by its author, Karla M. Jay, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thanks, Karla!

“One does evil enough when one does nothing good.”

I have to say that you should definitely be prepared for a somewhat heavy historical fiction before going into When We Were Brave. Just like you would expect from a WW2 novel set in Nazi Germany, it showed the hardships that people experienced as well as the precious few moments that were a result of appreciating the precious seconds that were rare and kind of far between during those times.

This was in general just a heartfelt, and long, journey. I have seen people comparing When We Were Brav to The Nightingale and I have to say that I see where they are coming from.

Listening to stories from the point of different jewish people that had different takes on what was happening was interesting to read, as When We Were Brave is comprised of mainly 3 stories. The characters in the first two stories were engaging and easy to get attached to but, to be honest, it started to lose my interest at some parts towards the end.

However, the familial relationships made me fall in love so fast and were so well written (especially with the second story of the mother and son trying to escape the Nazis). It was relatable for me personally and that was the story that really hooked me the most that I just had to drop everything and listen. If you aren’t a character driven person the plot of this is more than enough to keep you engrossed as it is quite intense and emotional.

The themes were absolutely amazing! Which is an aspect that I always expect to be strong with historical fiction novels and I am very happy to say that I was not let down.

It's heartbreaking. It's inspiring. What more could you ask for? I absolutely loved the Karla M. Jay's writing style for the most part and the narrator did a great job of translating that into the audiobook. There weren't any fancy sound effects or music but that did not hinder my enjoyment at all. I actually thought the narration itself was entrancing which suited the story perfectly

All in all, I agree with everyone that this was an amazing historical WW2 fiction and there is no doubt that you are going to love this if the genre comes within your reading taste.

Meet the Author: Michelle Layer Rahal

Michelle is a former radio news reporter and published educator. She is a graduate of Hofstra University and holds a Masters of Education degree from the University of New York at Buffalo. Michelle was a contributing editor on The Human Odyssey, Prehistory Through the Middle Ages for K12 Inc.; content editor on The Chalice and the Stirrup Cup by George Baber Atkisson; author of articles for Educational Resource Service (ERS); contributing author for various national studies and reports, including the National Indian Education Study (2006). She lives in Virginia with her husband.

One thing I do: forgetting what is behind, I strain toward what lies ahead. Phil 3:13

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