Our mistakes have a way of coming back to haunt us even when we've changed. Bailey Craig in Dani Pettrey's book Submerged discovered this the hard way.
Bailey was a wild child as a teen, sleeping with any boy who wanted her. Abandoned by her mother, Bailey lived with her aunt in Alaska. Despite her aunt's love and support, Bailey felt deeply wounded by her mother's abandonment and looked for love and acceptance anywhere she could find it.
She left wreckage in her wake. Her first boyfriend, Cole, was one of those pieces of wreckage.
When Bailey's aunt dies, she has to return to Alaska to sell her aunt's business. She dreads returning because she doesn't want to face Cole who was a good friend and she doesn't want to endure the knowing looks and unkind comments from others in the small Alaska town who knew the kind of girl she was.
The kind of girl she was. Bailey's a new person now. She became a believer in Jesus while she was in college and changed her lifestyle. And now as a college professor and a Christian, she is respected by her friends and colleagues in Oregon. Going back to Alaska to face her past is not something she ever envisioned doing.
After learning her aunt's death in a plane crash was not accidental, Bailey is compelled to stay in Alaska to unravel the clues her aunt left that can explain why she and several more people were killed. The longer Bailey stays, she discovers that not only has God forgiven her for her past, but so has Cole.
Submerged is about transitions and forgiveness set against the backdrop of Alaska in the summertime. Dani Pettrey weaves information about Alaska's Russian heritage into a contemporary story of murder, greed and power-seeking. Not to mention skin-diving, treasure-hunting and the search for the last descendants of the Romanov dynasty.
Bailey is a complicated woman still filled with unhappiness and hurt. Although she knows she is loved and forgiven by God, she has difficulty accepting that love and forgiveness. The character of Bailey is a person-type with whom many of us can identify. Her struggle for wholeness is universal.
There are elements of predictable romance in the book, but by not brushing over Bailey's struggle with believing she is genuinely forgiven and a new woman in Christ and not providing easy solutions, Pettrey gives the book authenticity and weight.
Submerged is absorbing summer reading, not fluffy, and particularly interesting because of the focus on Russian Alaska history. It is the first book in the Alaskan Courage series. Pettrey introduces us to many other characters who I think will be the lead players in subsequent entries in the series.
Submerged by Dani Pettrey
Bethany House Publishers, 2012
Christian Fiction, 313 pages
Bethany House Publishers provided a free copy of Submerged for review. The opinions stated are my own.