Goodbye Death, Goodbye
by Juliana Alcala
Trafford Publishing

"It is not the physical lockup which turns us away from life, but our inner emptiness, our lack of faith; the chains we weave around ourselves."

Guided by deep religious beliefs and mystic gifts, four friends weather trials that test and ultimately strengthen their faith in a benevolent creator. The friends, who marry to become two close-knit couples, study religious texts and use their gifts of foresight as they struggle to love, forgive, and apply their faith in the face of great adversity. As they successfully work through myriad personal challenges including debilitating accidents, the death of newborns and estrangement from family, they gain a reputation; strangers in need of spiritual healing seek them out. However, despite frequent interludes in which Laura, Daniel, Lluvia and Fabian aid strangers, the story of the four friends solidly remains at the book's core. Over time, they become parents and mature on many levels. The setting is mostly in Mexico but diverts to other locales, including Pakistan, as characters return to the scene of past trials to set things right and travel to escape painful situations.

Unconventional punctuation, particularly the absence of quotation marks around dialogue, is distracting but not fatal to the book's success. Lengthy, interspersed religious passages, steeped in the conviction that the world's third and final era is underway, signaling the end of time, are highly relevant to the plot twists they juxtapose. The religious passages are best approached slowly and contemplatively. Readers who resist the urge to gloss through them will best comprehend their message: Physical, spiritual, and mental pain, including anguish associated with death and separation from loved ones, can be overcome, and a peaceful heart and renewed relationships with each other and God can follow. This is a rich, life-applicable wisdom embedded in a warm, well-plotted, believable story about love, friendship, and spiritual growth.

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