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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Accidental Pilgrim is a contemporary women's fiction novel written by Stephen Kitsakos. The plot revolves around the historical discovery in 1986 of the Jesus Boat in the Sea of Galilee. However, the story actually begins a number of years before that, in the early 1960s, when a young Brooklyn woman decided to defy her Orthodox Jewish parents' decision that she should become a doctor. Rose still intended to be a doctor, but not the kind that dealt with healing sick people. She would be studying marine biology on the graduate level in St. John, at the University of New Brunswick. Soon after she arrived in Canada, during a ferry crossing she met Simon Strongin, who worked with his father in the family's salmon processing plant.
Stephen Kitsakos' contemporary women's fiction novel, The Accidental Pilgrim, blends a historical family saga with metaphysics as it follows Rose and Simon's life together and highlights the missing three hours of her life that would save their lives. While much of the story seems dark, and the reader is privy to some rather uncomfortable inter-familial discord, I particularly enjoyed reading about Rose's academic success, her and Simon's early life together and the events in the story that were set in Israel. Kitsakos' handling of the ancient past and the Jesus Boat is never heavy-handed or didactic, and the subject matter adds an intriguing dimension to the story. The Accidental Pilgrim is intense and thought-provoking, and the characters one meets within its pages are well-defined and engaging, even as they struggle to maintain themselves as a cohesive unit based on blood. It's highly recommended.