This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 200 bloggers take a stand to support books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using eco- friendly paper, we hope to raise the awareness of book buyers and encourage everyone to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.

The campaign is organized for the second time by Eco-Libris, a green company working to make reading more sustainable. We invite you to join the discussion on "green" books and support books printed in an eco-friendly manner! A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.


ISBN-13: 9781616030032
Publisher: Leap Books
Published: 2010
Illustrated by: Mary B. Kelly
280 pgs
Source: Leap Books
(For the Love of Strangers is printed on FSC-certified paper.)

Ten years ago, Darya and her younger brother Nikolai live their life in a Russian orphanage. Six years later, they are now living with an elderly woman who called Tee-tee (whose real name is actually Teresa Tomasio and she is an American) whereby she works as a director of the Helpline Crisis Referral Center by day, and undercover shelter director by night. You see, she runs a safe house for battered women and their kids, and she named it Philoxenia (Greek for "love of strangers" and that's where this title comes about.)

When Darya first steps onto America's land and into Tee-tee's life, she is full of doubts. After all, Tee-tee saw Nikolai at the orphanage first. However her doubts and her insecurities slowly fade away after getting to know more about her adoptive mother and knowing that she has a soft spot for women who need to get away but have nowhere to go. Because the county is so large and it is so rural and poor, they can't possibly support for every woman who needs safety thus Philoxenia is part of a network of houses scattered in residential neighbourhoods.

However, it seems like there are also other strangers - nonhumans - who want to seek protection too. When Darya thought she could hear the voices and pleas from the deers roaming about the forest around their area, she thought she was imagining things but she could sense the fear and pain in their eyes and she knew that their life are threatened considering her community hunt for them. She wants to help them, but would she be able to get the support from her adoptive mother and most of all, would she be able to take all the taunts and wraths of her community?

For the Love of Strangers is a haunting yet a compassionate account of a young girl's mission of protecting not only the battered women and their children but also more on the deers which face the cruelty fact of extermination. Although some scenes of this story take on a mystical tone at some point (Darya being able to understand the pleas of the deers and so forth), the message behind about protecting the animals and the emphasis on the beauty of nature come off strong and clear. Though For the Love of Strangers is a fiction, the sad truth is how those deers suffered in the story indeed happen in reality and everytime I see those videos on skinning animals for their furs or killing them for any benefits just makes my heart breaks.

But of course this book isn't entirely focused on protecting the deers only (though I loved the premise and fully support the cause), this story is also about 16-year-old Darya and her insecurities even after she was being adopted. She often wonders if her adoptive mother truly loves her and whether or not would she be sent back to Russia one day. I think Darya is a strong character, yet there is also a vulnerable side of her that makes me want to hug and comfort her. I suppose this is how a child might feel towards her adoptive parents at some point regardless of anything.

Poignant and lyrical, For the Love of Strangers will appeal not only to the YA readers but to the adults as well.

(Many thanks to Raz and team of Eco-Libris for hosting this great campaign, and also to Leap Books for sending this book to me for review.)
7 Responses
  1. Julia Says:

    This seem to be a very powerful and strong book about issues that happen in the community, where sometime it get over look. Especially toward animals. Great review, Melody :)

  2. Serena Says:

    sounds like this book tackles some deep topics with its characters and saving deer.

  3. The Bookworm Says:

    great review and cause as well :)
    it sounds like a moving read.

  4. Alice Says:

    I've always wondered about the FSC notation on some of the books I have and I'm glad now I understood what that means. :D

    This book sounds good!

  5. sounds a good book, compassion needs to include both humans and animals

  6. bermudaonion Says:

    This sounds fantastic and I actually know a young woman who this book would be perfect for.

  7. I'm so glad you were able to participate in this event, Melody! All the books that would have tempted me were taken so I decided to pass on it this year.

    This sounds like a wonderful story. It definitely sounds like a book worth checking out.

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