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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
You Cannot Grasp the River by Brent Brantley is a thriller with strong Christian themes. The story follows Benjad, an orphan boy whose life is threatened by the shaman known to have killed his parents. He is from a world that is harsh and where people believe in angry spirits. When this native Papuan boy is adopted by a missionary, Clay, and his wife, Alice, he finds a new home in the city, quite different from the life in his tribal setting. The young boy discovers love in his new family, but he is still haunted by the murder of his parents. While he struggles to embrace his new Christian faith, he still can’t overcome the tribal belief that a loved one’s murder must be avenged. Things escalate to an explosive finale when the evil from his past comes back in human form to kill him.
This is a deftly written story, and the author balances Christian values with tribal beliefs, establishing a defining contrast between Benjad’s life in his tribe and life in the city. The conflict is written with ingenuity. Besides the physical and cultural elements that fuel the conflict, the reader encounters a protagonist torn between two contradictory beliefs: the forgiveness proposed by his newfound faith and the call for revenge rooted in his traditional belief. You Cannot Grasp the River is emotionally charged, deftly written, and beautifully paced. The characters are fully drawn and multidimensional. The author writes the themes of family, faith, tradition, and love intelligently and captivatingly. The elements of the settings are explored in detail, and readers have clear images of where the story takes place. Overall, this is a moving tale about the pull of the past and the liberating power of the Christian faith: it is compassionate and affectingly warm.