Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite
This story begins in 1972 by introducing us to 12 year old Tristeza. Her real name is Felicida but she has been cautioned not to use that name. She witnessed her family’s murder, the massacre of her village. The face of Captain Antonio Perreira was burned into her memory.
Our next stop is 1974 where we meet Amanda Bechtel a missionary nurse at the Cachimbo mission hospital. Risking her own life she is a carrier, smuggling information. She loves the people of Mozambique. When she receives a call from her father, she rushes to her mother’s death bed. There is no time to contact her betrothed, Lazaro, to explain why she is leaving the people and the county she loves. She leaves a tear stained letter with his mother.
Our story moves forward in time to 1982. Children of the street of Rio de Janeiro hide from the shark, a black Mercedes. The shark was searching for children to devour. “Colonel Antonio Perreira stroked the barrel of his gun.” He enjoyed killing vermin and he considered the still children vermin of the worst kind.
Amanda and her husband Jeffery have been married seven years. They need a relaxing vacation and a cruise seems just the right thing. They never expected their cabin stewardess to be Tristeza, nor their table mates to be Colonel Perreira and his family.
Tristeza is terrified that Perreira will recognize her. She thought back to her friend Lazaro. He told her that in an emergency she could always trust Heheni Amanda.
Through a series of unfolding events Perreira’s past comes to light. The ensuing drama draws Amanda and Tristeze together.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began to read Unpredictable Crossing. What I found was a book with depth, suspense, relevance and intrigue. Author Jonna-Lynn K. Mandelbaum shares a story that sheds light on war crimes, spousal abuse in other countries, and the plight of homeless children in Rio de Janeiro. Her use of footnotes brings this story to reality. The characters are well done but it was the plot that grabbed me. Amanda cared enough to get involved. Tristeza was courageous enough to share her story, Jeffery loved his wife enough to understand her past and Lucia loved her child enough to leave her husband. I’m not sure what else to say. I don’t want to give away the plot yet I want readers to pick up a copy of this book. Well done MS Mandelbaum.