The Accidental Pilgrim

Fiction - Womens
306 Pages
Reviewed on 05/22/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Kitsakos is currently commissioned by American Opera Projects to write the libretto for the opera adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's New York Times and international bestseller, A Thousand Splendid Suns, with music by the distinguished American composer Sheila Silver. Other works include librettos for the Beverly & Raymond Sackler Award-Winning The Wooden Sword (2009) and The White Rooster: A Tale of Compassion (2010) for the Smithsonian Institution. His novel, The Accidental Pilgrim, about the intersection of science, religion and the unexplainable, was published in March, 2015 by ASD Publishing. He is a contributing author for the compendium Music in American Life (ABC-CLIO) and writes regularly for the quarterly magazine, The Sondheim Review.

    Book Review

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.

Cheryl E. Rodriguez

Stephen Kitsakos writes a memorable tale in The Accidental Pilgrim. Old Testament meets New Testament in a phenomenal way! Rose Strongin is a Jewish woman who has shunned her heritage, denied God and the miraculous, and embraced science. Rose is a marine biologist. In 1974, she is asked to join an archaeological expedition on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. On her last day, Rose vanishes for several hours, frightening her family and colleagues. Once she is found, she has no recollection of what occurred during her disappearance. However, over time fragments of memory return. What she remembers is nothing short of the miraculous. But, Rose does not believe in miracles. Her lapse of memory becomes a misadventure that turns into a lifelong pilgrimage for truth.

The Accidental Pilgrim by Stephen Kitsakos is a captivating story about one woman’s journey in life. The setting of the story changes locations and time frames frequently. Kitsakos takes his heroine on a personal quest from the streets of Brooklyn to the waters of Canada, the chaos of California, and the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Utilizing a flashback technique, Kitsakos tells the story in a series of remembrances. Maintaining the mysterious mood, each recollection gives a bit of information relevant to the present. Bit by bit, piece by piece, the puzzling story takes shape. The protagonist endures an internal conflict as she struggles to discover the truth. Her character evolves, making drastic changes in personality as she battles the known with the unknown. The Accidental Pilgrim challenges the reader to believe in miracles. After all, if the unexplained could be explained, there would be no need for God. Many of us find Him completely by accident.

Melinda Hills

A strange connection exists between Rose Fonseca Strongin and the people and place where she is involved in an archaeological dig in The Accidental Pilgrim by Stephen Kitsakos. Drawn to the study of underwater acoustics, Dr. Strongin’s path leads her to the shores of Lake Galilee in Israel where she experiences an unexplained phenomenon – she simply disappears for over 3 hours with no recollection but retains a strange souvenir. With the delay that causes in her schedule, she and her family miss their flight home to Canada which crashes, killing all aboard. Never able to account for that missing time, Rose forgets about it until coming into contact again with the lead archaeologist whom her husband thinks is her lover. There is a deep connection between Rose and Noah that does not affect her husband, Simon, but it is one that Rose doesn’t explain to anyone until near the end of her life. Rose begins to think she is losing her mind until she is drawn back to the shores famous in biblical accounts and Noah shares the amazing truth with her. Will her husband’s dedication to her last wishes complete Rose’s story?

Stephen Kitsakos has masterfully told a tale that spans 2000 years in a strange and unique way. Clearly defined characters full of believable doubts, dreams, struggles and triumphs come together as a family, finding answers they didn’t know they were searching for. Rose’s story is deeply haunting and the amazing connection between Rose, her husband Simon, colleague Noah, and historic Israel will leave you speechless. The Accidental Pilgrim illuminates our possible connections to the past with gentle enlightenment.