Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Upheaval: Wherein the Spirit of the Earth Mother Discovers the Truth Inside Us, a Novel by Joel Machak

Remember when we were all reading The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel? Young heroines wearing animal skins became all the rage. Then as Auel's series continued, many readers drifted away. I did too. I opened Upheaval: Wherein the Spirit of the Earth Mother Discovers the Truth Inside Us All, a Novel (Xlibris, 2011) by Joel Machak, only knowing there would be Native American content, intrigued that the Earth Mother might be a character. Taking place some 950 years ago in the Arizona wilderness, the novel immediately grabbed me with its purity of place and time.

Volcanic activity has recently occurred. The native peoples are fleeing, warring, killing and starving. One young woman remains strong. She has two names. Her common name is Ayasha. Her other name is Nokomis, Earth Mother. Don't ask how or why. Just read it and you will believe it. Her primordial wisdom is always there. In this post-apocalyptic setting, readers immediately sense that she is very much alone. Yet she survives well, living in a cave usually used for drying pottery. The tribe to whom she was an outsider are gone, including the medicine man who once nurtured her soul. Not long into the novel, along comes another outsider, a restless young man named Ahote. He comes from another region, carrying his well made bow and arrows, looking to avenge the slaughter of all his tribe.

How these two characters interact, the many dangers and challenges they face kept me rapt with attention and concern. Can Nokomis persuade Ahote there is more to life than revenge? Although at times he is very much her acolyte (so was I!), he is also deeply disturbed by her powers, her beauty, her deep wisdom. Backed into the cave by a bear, attacked by marauders, will Nokomis and Ahote survive to tell their tale? There is so much at stake. How and why Nokomis would consider making the choice to be more earthly than cosmic creates spiritual suspense, if there can be such a thing.....

Quoting the back cover: "...the two discover the power of second chances and finally unravel the greatest puzzle of them all: the human heart. Discover the truth inside you." I can not overstate the uniqueness of this wonderful novel. It is unlike anything else I have ever read. If I were Hollywood, I would quickly come calling upon Joel Machak. Upheaval would make a great screenplay! Yes, I admit I met the author once socially. He is the good friend of a good friend of mine. His imagination deserves a wide audience. I will be buying additional copies to share with family and friends. Upheaval is the sort of book you feel you just have to pass along.

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