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Reviewed by Sarah Stuart for Readers' Favorite
The early part of Just A Drop in the Ocean by Grant Leishman is set on a family smallholding in the Philippines and the time is July 1971. The eldest child of the family, who survives at subsistence level on rice crops, is eleven-year-old Teresa. Shy but bright, she is eager to follow her teacher’s instructions to correspond with pen friends all over the world. Her first letter is to Nick in New Zealand, and he hates the extra homework. He’d rather be out with his mates. Television has arrived, a glimpse of the modern world. Thirty years on, Teresa is a battered wife carrying her sixth child. Nick too is married, a businessman mugged en route home. A very different story from hopes fostered by years of exchanged letters.
Grant Leishman has set the majority of Just A Drop in the Ocean in the Philippines, islands he clearly knows well since the descriptions are so vivid. Teresa’s story of a marriage to an abusive drunk creates a strong, likeable heroine working to bring up six children almost alone. Totally alone, I fumed several times, would have been better! The pen friend since her school days, Nicholas Stevenson, grows rich, and not always by legal means as he travels the world. Divorced and plunged into poverty himself, he thinks often of Teresa, but Mr Leishman keeps his readers guessing. Was it possible that two people from very different countries and backgrounds would ever meet, or was paper love nothing but a teenage dream? Teresa’s troubles truly touched my heart throughout this beautifully written, very different novel.