Oceans Apart by Karen Kingsbury
Published by Harper Collins
Publication Date: 2004
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A riveting story of secret sin and the healing power of forgiveness.
Airline pilot Connor Evans and his wife, Michele, seem to be the perfect couple living what looks like a perfect life. Then a plane goes down in the Pacific Ocean. One of the casualties is Kiahna Siefert, a flight attendant Connor knew well. Too well.
Kiahna’s will is very clear: before her seven-year-old son, Max, can be turned over to the state, he must spend the summer with the father he’s never met, the father who doesn’t know he exists: Connor Evans.
Now will the presence of one lonely child and the truth he represents destroy Connor’s family ? Or is it possible that healing and hope might come in the shape of a seven-year-old boy? This title is also available as an unabridged Audio Pages® CD.
I read this in one sitting. It is Karen Kingsbury’s fault that I didn’t wake up in time to go to work today. It is Karen Kingsbury fault that I have raccoon eyes and a red nose from too much crying and it is Karen Kingsbury’s fault that I hugged my daughter closer and tighter this morning and it’s most definitely Karen Kingsbury’s fault that I love my family and my friends more than I’ve ever loved them before (and that’s saying something because I love them so much, forever and ever big time) and it’s Karen Kingsbury’s fault that my heart is full this morning.
You see, Karen Kingsbury wrote a book called Oceans Apart and it’s a beautiful story about forgiveness and about second chances. It’s pretty funny to me that last week, I asked our dear readers if they knew of any stories that took place in the islands (Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, etc.) with characters that were Polynesian and I picked up this book and began reading it last night only to find out that one of the crucial characters in this book is half Hawaiian and half Irish.
The story starts off with us meeting a hard working single mother named Kiahna Siefert. In the first two chapters, you can see the wealth of love she has for her young son, Max Riley. She’s like any other normal mother, she worries over his welfare, she worries if he’s got what he needs and she worries about their future. It was really touching to read about the bond, the relationship between mother and son.
Between Kiahna and Max.
We first meet Max while Kiahna is getting ready for work. She’s a flight attendant and she’s flying to Japan so she’ll be away from Max until the next night. Max will be staying with his babysitter, Ramey, an older woman who is like a grandmother to Max. Kiahna is trying to get things ready for her flight and trying to make sure that Max has everything he needed while she was away and all the while, Max is asking her when they’ll get to get a husband so that Kiahna can stay home during the day just like his friend Kody’s mom did.
You can feel the sadness in Kiahna as she tells him that a husband just wasn’t in the cards for her and that if God wanted it to happen, then it’ll be in God’s time, not hers.
The first scenes of the book really set the tone for the rest of the book for me. I’ve connected with characters before in stories and I have fallen in love with characters but I have never quite met a character like little Max Riley. I never connected with a character the way that I connected with his mother, Kiahna.
And then we meet Max’s father, Connor Evans.
Connor Evans is a father of two and a happily married man to Michele Evans. They’ve been in love for forever and he had no idea that his big, dark secret was about to blow the hell up in his face. You see, Connor is a pilot who flies those big airplanes for commercial airlines. He’s pretty much got it made, he’s married to his sweetheart, he loves her with every fiber of his being and his life is pretty much the best life he could possibly have.
Only he’s got this secret that he’s never told Michele. He had an affair, a very brief, one time deal about 8 years ago, one night when he was stuck in Honolulu. He met Max’s mom and they talked well into the evening and nine months later, Kiahna had Max and 8 years later, Connor finds out about Max.
He finds out because Kiahna’s flight to Japan never made it to Japan. There were problems on the flight and the plane nosedived into the ocean, killing everyone on board.
Leaving Max an orphan.
Before Max was born, Kiahna made arrangements in the event that she never came home from one of her flights. She had never told anyone about Max’s biological father, it was a secret she kept close to her heart until the day she died. In the event of her death, she wanted Max to stay with her friend, Connor Evans for two weeks and spend some time with him, getting to know him. It was important to her and if at the end of that time, Connor realized that he wanted to keep Max, then he could but if they couldn’t or wouldn’t then Max was to be turned over to the state since she didn’t have any family and Ramey was too sick to take care of Max.
Over the course of this book, I felt many emotions that pricked my heart and then scorched my soul. Cheesy or not, that’s how I felt. I have fallen into many a storylines but never the way I did with this one. This story held my attention like no other story has. I seriously felt apart of the story instead of just an outside observer. Karen Kingsbury did a fantastic job of telling Max’s story.
This wasn’t a romance. It wasn’t just about Connor and Michele, it was about butterflies and forgiveness but more importantly it was about second chances. Connor made a mistake 8 years ago and he never dealt with it, in return he broke the trust that his wife had in him, he made a mockery of their vows and he betrayed his family. That’s not something anyone would take lightly and Connor didn’t.
When Connor first found out about Max, I was fuming mad at him. I was so mad that he hadn’t had the decency to call Kiahna to see how she was doing, to see if there were any consequences from their actions. I was just so pissed that he acted like it never happened, like it was no big deal, as long as Michele never found out, everything would be fine…and then when he was forced to tell Michele, he still didn’t seem very sorry about it, he seemed more guilty. KK did a wonderful job of showing where Connor was and where Connor was heading. I didn’t feel like Connor’s growth was rushed in any way, it was perfect and real.
Michele on the other hand, I tried to understand where she was coming from and I tried to put myself in her shoes, I would probably have reacted the exact same way had it ever happened to me but it didnt’ stop me from being mad at Michele for Max. No matter how much I felt for Michele and what she was going through, I was still livid with the way she let things go with Max.
Like Max was to blame for her world falling apart.
And that’s what is so hard about this story. Trying to cast judgements and to keep distance emotionally from these characters, it was just impossible. You couldn’t really help but care for these people and you wanted things to work out.
And then there was Max.
Little Max Riley Sierfet, young and beautiful and so full of love and hope that you wanted to cuddle him close and ease his fears because he knew that he was all alone in the world now that his Mom wasn’t there and you could feel just how strong his prayers were and his faith in his Mother. He loved his mother very, very much and he knew that she loved him more. Getting to know Kiahna more through Max’s memories was heart breaking at the same time that it was heart warming.
To see the struggles that each of the people involved in this story went through because of one
action, one mistake…to see how one small act can have irrevocable consequences makes you appreciate your life so much more now and appreciate your loved ones more. The miracle of forgiveness is amazing and some of my favorite quotes from this book involve this miracle.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“Love happens when you forgive, that’s what my Mommy used to say.”
From Kiahna to Max:
“Be brave, Max.”
A very touching scene:
“We’ll play Scrabble tomorrow night, okay?”
“It’s too sunny to play Scrabble.”
“Okay, then basketball? Give and go, all right?” Kiahna rested her hands on her knees and kept her face at his level.
“Really?” Max’s eyes held a hint of doubt. “Give and go?”
She winked at him. “As long as it’s light out.”
Mix bit his lip. “Japan’s a long way from here.”
“Yes.” Kiahna angled her face. why was he talking like this? She’d flown since before he was born. But not so bad when you go all the time.”
“Yeah.” he lifted one shoulder and let his gaze fall to the ground. “Sorry about this morning.”
“For what?” she fell back on her heels.
“The husband stuff.” He lifted his eyes to her. “I just get sad when you’re so far away all day.” A few seconds passed. “What if I break my arm? Who’ll help me?”
“She’s my ‘mergency contact.” He pushed the toe of his tennis shoe against her leather loafers. “But I mean the hug part and the singing part. Who’d do that?”
Kiahna hesitated only a moment. This was the part of the being a single mom that always made her throat swell–the idea that she couldn’t be all things to Max, not while she had a full time job.
“Well” –she framed his small face with her fingers–“I would.”
“You’d be somewhere over the ocean.” He wasn’t arguing with her, only making a point. Sharing a fear she hadn’t known he’d had until now.
“Even if we’re oceans apart I’ll always be right here.” She lowered one hand and let her fingers rest on the spot just above his heart. “You know that, right, sport? Remember our song?”
This was the scene right before Kiahna left for work, the day that would change Max’s life forever and it would have brought me to my knees had I been standing when I read that.
Lastly I have to share Max and Kiahna’s special song, a song that Max sang with his Mother when he was afraid.
“I love you, Max, the most. I love to make you toast. When oceans we’re apart, you’re always in my heart.”
I can’t express how much I loved this book, I’ve talked on and on but it still doesn’t fully express how great I thought this book was. I sympathized with Michele, Connor and Max….and even Kiahna, it was the scenes between Max and Kiahna, the memories of Kiahna that sealed my love of this book. Michele, who was hurt the most by all of this, I felt her emotions and even though she made me mad sometimes, I couldn’t hate her because she wasn’t evil, she was just hurt and trying to cope with everything the best way she knew how and then there was Connor. Connor, who made me so mad with things he said, things he thought. But inside, I knew that Connor was a good man, he couldn’t have had the love of two great women, if he wasn’t and even when he was doing what he thought was right, not thinking about Max, but thinking about Michele and his daughters and their lives, I couldn’t even be mad because he did what was best for his wife and for his family.
The book ended the way it was supposed to end.
I enjoyed so many aspects of this book, I enjoyed the relationship between Max and Kiahna, I enjoyed the relationship between Connor and his daughters Elizabeth and Sarah, I enjoyed the budding relationship Max had with Connor and I even enjoyed the scenes between Michele and Connor, you could tell they loved each other fully and deeply and that Connor’s betrayal was not done because he didn’t love Michele, it was just one of those things that happened. He was lost and Kiahna was lost and for a moment, they did something very very wrong to try to comfort each other. I liked that KK didn’t make Kiahna out to be a bad person, the dirty mistress, I like that Kiahna was real, just as real as Michele was and just as real as Connor was. She was a woman, a strong woman who loved and was loved in return. There’s so much that I told you guys in this review but there’s still so much more to read in the book as well, you’re gonna have to read the book to really appreciate the book, so what are you waiting for?
This was a fantastic book, an emotional rollercoaster, a rollercoaster I’d gladly jump on every chance I got. This is a must read for everyone, GO OUT AND READ THIS BOOK!
5 out of 5