by Sharon Sala

October 2003
ISBN: 1-55166-740-1
Reviewer Graphic Button Mira Books
Mass Market Paperback

All Jade Cochrane can remember about her childhood is the terrible years she spent in a commune called People of Joy. The leader, Solomon, used her and the other children for profit. Her sleep is distrubed by nightmares of the uncles who would come play with her. Jade lives her life on the run, making money when she needs to by selling her paintings and sketches. The only friend she has is Raphael, a fellow commune sufferer and her protector. But Raphael has a secret that could destroy their life and finally break Jade.

Luke Kelly is a ex-cop who runs a security company. He is asked by Jade's father, Sam Cochrane, to find Jade and bring her home. After meeting Jade in person, Luke finds himself falling in love with a woman who is so emotional scarred, she might never be able to love him back. He takes her and Raphael to Sam, vowing to always be there when Jade needs him. Little do either of them know that Jade will need Luke sooner than they expected.

Jade's homecoming isn't all roses and immediate connections with her father. She's been away for twenty years. She's lived through hell and worse. Surviving day to day, she has learned to rely on no one but Raphael. Also, she knows a secret from her childhood that someone doesn't want her telling. That someone is willing to kill to keep her from remembering. When her return is covered by the national news, that person decides to solve the problem by ending her life. Chaos insues as the killer hunts Jade and Raphael's secret is revealed. Through it all, Luke stands by her side, holding her hand and helping her become strong.

Ms. Sala has done it again. Marrying the right combination of suspense and emotional anguish, she manages to wrench the reader's heart with sadness and hope. We are treated to the growth of a woman who had no choice but to shut herself off from the world. Jade's childhood had been hell, scarring her heart deeply. She learns to trust herself and others when her world is shattered. Jade is a perfect example of someone overcoming their past to make a better future one day at a time. Luke is the perfect compliment for Jade. He's strong, but senstive. He has his faith in God and trust in his fellow man. He isn't naive about the world, but he knows that there is some good out in it. He learns patience while he lets Jade go to help her free herself.

Out of the Dark is a testament to children everywhere who can't see the hope in a world that has betrayed them. It takes the reader to a dark place where abuse destroys innocence. Yet, even in the darkest moments of the story, Ms. Sala shows us that there is goodness. There are angels watching over all of us because what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger.

Reviewed in October 2003 by Jenni.

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