God always has a purpose. We always have a choice.
In this compelling Genesis Award finalist, fifteen-year-old Melissa Travis finds herself floundering into uncharted waters when she is exiled from her Christian high school. Dreading a month of “mom talks” over endless cups of tea, she accepts her missionary sister’s invitation to visit the remote Chiloé Islands of southern Chile. There she discovers a world utterly unlike the South Pacific paradise she imagined, where dire poverty dwells with enchanting beauty, and ancient customs conspire with modern corruption. While a pod of playful dolphins casts an irresistible spell, sinister evil simmers beneath the surface.
A suspicious drowning, a ghost ship, and a shaman’s chilling prediction of her death on the island force Melissa to question everything she believes. Amid the storm of human greed and natural disasters, a soulful young islander inspires her to make life-changing choices, while faith and friendship draw her to reckon with destiny.
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Destiny at Dolphin Bay is a fantastic story following lead character Melissa as she spends time with her missionary sister's family in Chile due to some trouble at her Christian high school in the US. The author, Diana, does a wonderful job at integrating the culture of the country in which the lead character is visiting. As one who has gone on a two month mission trip, I really appreciate that the author shows the benefits of longer mission trips. The ability to form relationships with the people provide one with opportunities to get to know people in-depth and for them to get to know you. Being able to be fully immersed in a culture allows one to have a better understanding of the cultural values. Diana interweaves cultural aspects along with the lead characters spiritual journey in a very natural way. The spiritual aspects are also done very well and not at all forced. We see the struggles of some key characters and the path they are following impacted by their choices. Melissa has grown up in the church, we see her faith challenged in very real ways. We see a character name Nicolás who is native to the country. His spiritual journey is another that I especially enjoyed as he grew up participating in local religious customs which lacked a relational aspect.
From an encouragement to ones faith or an introduction to Christianity, the author meets the reader where they are at and does not force. The reader can learn from the book in a way that fits their own needs. This book would be great for middle school and up. For the younger ages this book presents an opportunity for parents to discuss Melissa's spiritual journey, her choices and challenges. This could be an amazing catalyst for some quality conversations that can lead to positive personal growth or sow the seeds for growth at a later time when led by the Lord. As adult I found this book very engaging presenting the challenges missionaries face when sharing their faith with people from a different culture. I learned a lot and hope many more enjoy this book!
I really enjoyed all the detailed descriptions. It felt like I could see, smell and experience with the main character of the story where she was and what she was experiencing. One of the other things that I really enjoyed about the story was that it was unapologetically Christian but not in a forced or contrived way. It was natural and that is something that I find hard to find in novels. It reminded me a little of the book "Treasures of the Snow" (by Patricia M St. John) in that it was genuine in its representation of human struggles as the characters react and make decisions.
I confess that I read this book in 2 days- I did not accomplish much those 2 days because I just wanted to find out how the story would end. It has been a long time since I read a book that I just couldn't put down. I hope to see more books by this author!
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