Friday, 11 November 2016

Book Review: Hopatcong Vision Quest by Steve Lindahl

My rating: 5 stars.
Hopatcong Vision Quest is an interesting combination of psychology, spirituality and crime with the added bonus of a riveting plot line. The story takes the reader into two different eras through the lives lived by the same souls in different bodies.

Diane, a woman in the 21st century, wants to solve the riddle of her mother’s drowning in Lake Hopatcong. She believes it is connected to the death of another woman and approaches Ryan, the woman’s husband, for help. With her mother’s friend Martha, they consult a hypnotherapist, who takes them into memories of their past lives in the 17th century in the same location, where similar incidences occurred. Diane’s 17th century counterpart was a woman called Oota Dabun, who wanted to go on a vision quest even though the rite was reserved for boys in their journey into adulthood. The two women share the desire for understanding.

This book engaged me right from the start and a few pages in I did not want to put it down. The characters, both in the present and their past lives, are relatable, yet enigmatic enough to make the reader wonder about what drives them. Some of them were of different genders and races in former lives, inviting the characters themselves and the reader to consider their motivations. The philosophical question of what impacts the human psyche, and whether nature or nurture has the strongest effect on our actions, comes to the fore. Even the dark characters are not entirely undeserving of empathy.

Since this book is rich in spiritual lessons, it inspired contemplation on how I responded to the characters and the plot lines. True to my personality, I felt drawn to the traditions of the 17th century Lenape tribe, where nature had things to teach people. In the thread of the present, I felt most judgemental towards the character who abuses authority for personal gain.

The story looks at themes of anger, justice and love from the perspective of the soul. In line with the cross-generic nature of the novel, resolution happens in a manner different from merely cracking the clues. The insight gained by the characters invites the reader to reflect too.

I have highlighted two powerful quotes that captured my attention:

“The earth was a minuscule spot among the stars in the universe, yet there were more kinds of love in this tiny world than anyone could count.”
“I like to sit by the lake. I like the quiet days when the water appears solid, with only ripples raised by the wind. But sometimes people bring conflict, sometimes a powerboat breaks the surface, creating waves larger than the ones the wind made. When that happens, the wind seems to say, ‘Just wait. I can do better.’ And before too long, there’s a storm with even taller waves. So to me the water says, ‘I am you. And like you I can be love or hate, forgiveness or anger, peace or war.’ I choose love, forgiveness, and peace, then go on sitting by the water.”