Monday, December 12, 2022

Pure Joy

Last week I got an email that read “Congratulations! You qualified to have a chance to sign a deal for your very first movie adaptation.” I’ll admit it caught my attention.

I read further despite being fairly certain it was a pay-for-representation offer. At “...  upon scrutinizing your book …” I almost hit Delete. Instead, I emailed back asking which of my six books he was interested in representing.

After some back and forth, I knew this was not an avenue I was interested in pursuing. Still, the interaction got me reading the Amazon listing of The Alki Trilogy for the first time in ages. What I found was pure joy.

In today’s world of online shopping, reviews matter. The joy I found were the wonderful reviews from readers I do not know. Don’t get me wrong. All reviews are great no matter who writes them or even if the reader finds fault with the book, but reviews from readers who do not know me personally indicates my books have traveled beyond my small circle of family and friends.

With deep gratitude to all readers who take the time to share their thoughts, I’m including a few reviews below. You are of course invited to read more online. 

If you are enticed to read my novels or gift them this holiday season, the eBooks are on sale for one week, December 13th to 20th for only 99 cents!

5.0 out of 5 stars Running Secrets 

I read this book in one weekend. It was hard to put down and only did when I had to. I loved the characters in the story and the building relationships, especially the mother/daughter relationship between Chris and Gemi because I was adopted as an adult and I know how that can heal old wounds. Wonderful book. Highly recommended.

5.0 out of 5 stars Some books are a great read, but other books are ...

Some books are a great read, but other books are a great reading experience couched in an important read. I feel that Biking Uphill is the latter. In Biking Uphill, Arleen Williams captures your attention with the pictures she paints, which somehow evoke the warmth and sincerity of photographer, Paul Taylor's pictures of the migrant workers from an era more than half a century before. Her story is a rich and earthy stew of friendship, desperation, triumph, and the power of love in the face of hopelessness. All these are wrapped in a running theme of the gross injustices of humanity. But it's her gift for imagery that prevented me from putting the book down. It's not symbolic imagery, but real, almost photographic pictures she presents of the characters and places, right down to the smells and the light....all my senses were aware while gathering more secrets of each character. I felt more like I was watching a movie than reading a book. As for the story itself, it's timely and brave for its vivid portrayal of the universal pain caused by arbitrary borders, learned prejudice, and the sorrow of separation these things create. She is making an important contribution to society through her honest writing, and I am certain, through her teaching, as well. I can't wait to read the rest of the trilogy!

5.0 out of 5 stars A Trilogy to Savor Again and Again

If you're an avid reader, you know well the thrill of stumbling upon a book that resonates with you so powerfully you just can't put it down. When it ends, there is a feeling of sadness and a longing for more. That is how I felt when I first discovered the Alki Trilogy by Arleen Williams. It started with Running Secrets, the story of a young woman hurtling toward self-destruction before meeting Gemi Kemmal, a healthcare provider and survivor of the horrific political and civil clashes in Ethiopia.

Gemi is the binding thread in each of the books in the trilogy, which continues with Biking Uphill, and culminates with Walking Home, a beautiful and very true-to-life story of an Eritrean refugee called Kidane seeking to build a new life in Seattle. Sadly, in spite of Kidane's best efforts, he remains plagued with nightmares and flashbacks from his own struggles in the Horn of Africa, until he, too, meets Gemi. This time, the caregiver becomes the care receiver at the heart of a tale that brings each character from the trilogy together in beautiful fashion.
What I appreciate most about Walking Home, Biking Uphill, and Running Secrets, is that each of the characters are so believable. So real. So many authors choose to make their characters human, but still somehow detached from reality. Williams doesn't. Instead, each of her characters, from Kidane and Gemi, to Talisha, Kidane's future wife, and their growing circle of friends, is so true one half expects to visit the Alki area and run into them.
Also, unlike other novels of the genre, or similar genres, the drama the characters face is also believable, and therefore makes it easy for readers to identify with in some way. I found myself in Chris, the main protagonist of Running Secrets, right away, but also saw glimpses of me in others in the trilogy as well.
What I especially appreciate is that each of the books is so compelling, you'll want to read them again, and because of Williams's flowing style - not too lofty and not too simplistic - you can and will discover something new when you do. But I caution you, there are moments in these books, particularly Walking Home, that will leave you breathless and stunned. There is a plot twist so unimaginable in Walking Home it spins the head. But do continue reading until the end or you'll miss an amazing finale.
I truly hope that Williams continues to gift readers with more stories with rich, multifaceted characters, stunning backdrops (if Alki Beach is real, I MUST visit!!), and stories that leave readers feeling a sense of "yes!" after the last page. Williams is a gifted writer and storyteller, and the Alki Trilogy proves it.


Unknown said...

I loved The Alki Trilogy, Arleen. After reading these reviews, I took them off my bookshelf and plan to read them again. Is it time to bring some of the characters back?

arleen said...

Thank you for reading and for commenting! I'm currently finishing the first draft of another memoir that I'm calling Pandemic Baby. When I'm at a stopping point, a new look at Gemi and Antonia might be in order. No promises!