How it all begins: The Existence of Pity, Chapter One
When I found out Aaron was shot, I fainted for the first time in my life. All the lights and colors of the emergency room darkened around me, I felt hot and cold at the same time, and a high-pitched ringing in my ears drowned the nurse's words.
The worst part, though, was the dizziness. I reached for Blanca because I knew it was going to be impossible to keep standing without help. The last thing I felt was her hand in mine.
The smell of coffee pulled me out of the fog. My aching head was on a hard pillow in Blanca's lap, and when I remembered where I was, tears burned my closed eyes.
How could one summer go so wrong?
Growing up in a lush valley in the Andes mountains, sixteen-year-old Josie Wales is mostly isolated from the turbulence brewing in 1976 Colombia. As the daughter of missionaries, Josie feels torn between their beliefs and the need to find her own path. She soon begins hiding things from her parents, like her new boyfriend, her dangerous trips into the large city of Cali, and her explorations into different religions.
When Josie discovers her parents and older brother Aaron have a few secrets of their own, she attempts to unravel the web of lies surrounding her family. But when each thread stretches to its breaking point, one thing is sure; the devastations of the summer will change everything for all of them.
The Existence of Pity is a story of flawed characters told with heart and depth in exotic and unpredictable Colombia.
Here is what people are saying . . .
"I read a lot of books but few surprise me. This book surprised me." Rachel
". . . I could not put it down!" Aria
"Masterful tension . . . the plot flows and carries us with it. Great read." Anne
"Well written, all characters are believable with distinct personalities." Ron
"Colombia calls to the heart of the reader in this fascinating story of a young woman, Josie Wales, finding her way in Cali, Colombia. Everyone in her American missionary family has a secret – Mom, Dad, brother Aaron, even Josie herself. And each secret could destroy the family – most of all Josie, who tries to fix everything with the help of the Colombian maid, Blanca. Amidst a plot with surprises in every chapter, the reader is drawn into Josie’s search for identity. Set within the majesty of Colombia and a pastoral seminary, elements of first love, lost love, illicit love, and the dangers of Colombia in the late 1970s make the story a page turner. I enjoyed the glimpses of everyday life of missionaries abroad, but religion isn’t the focus of the story. It's a about Josie and her search for identity. The book is well written -- beautiful touches of literary fiction with enough laughs and tears to make it a satisfying read. I hope to read more from author Jeannie Zokan." Diane S.
"I love this coming of age story. The wholesomeness of the characters is refreshing, especially against the backdrop of a turbulent time. Big things happen, but Josie meets the challenges with openness and honesty. At 46 I loved it, but I would've loved it at 16. Share it with your daughters, nieces, and grandchildren." Laura
"I loved reading Jeannie Zokan's book! As a Colombian and Cali native myself I was able to relate to so many places, characters and situations in the story. Jeannie Zokan's writing is fresh, authentic and truthful. Through her main character, Josie Wales, she shows what it means growing up respecting traditions while having an open mind and being a risk taker to explore new ideas." Dianne P.
"This is such a wonderful book to read. It's upsetting at times, but always hopeful. Highly recommended. 5*" Julie S.