Thursday, December 15, 2016

Escape from Home | Mending the Doctor’s Heart by Sophia Sasson

Back in 2007, I got to visit the island of Guam.  At the time, the purpose of my trip was not a happy one, it was for my day job and there was work to be done. Even the workaholic in me couldn’t resist the charm of the island and the amazing people I met. The trip there touched my soul and the characters of Anna and Nico took seed. Finally, ten years later their story is real.
Mending the Doctor’s Heart is a story that will rip your heart out then put it back together. It’s the story of a mother who has lost her child, a wife who has lost the ability to love, and a husband who has lost everything. Set against the backdrop of Guam, my hope for this story is not just to entertain, but to share a piece of the wonderful island with you.
 Hafa Adai (sounds like Half a day) is the Aloha or Hello in Chamorro.  People will greet you with Hafa Adai and when they ask how you are, they expect to hear the real answer and make time to listen.

 So most people know that Guam is a U.S. Territory in the Pacific and many of you learned about it in the context of World War II history. But there is so much more to Guam. First, I didn’t appreciate where it was exactly until I learned that it would take me twenty hours to fly there from Washington DC. It’s a dot in the middle of the Pacific ocean, across the date line; 6,000 miles from California and 4,000 miles from Hawaii. It’s closer to Japan than to the United States.
 Image result for guam on world map
Okay so it’s an isolated island. What does that really mean? Not only is it far away from any mainland resources, it’s prone to all sorts of natural disasters.  When I visited with the emergency medical services program on Guam, they showed me this picture of a typical storm they get and contrasted it with a picture of Hurricane Katrina that hit New Orleans.

 









When I asked folks what they did when such storms overwhelmed local resources and they looked at me like I was crazy. “We handle it,” they said matter of factly. “There is no one coming to save us, we are here by ourselves, whatever happens, we deal with it. We have to.” Yes I did feel very small in that moment. And while I certainly saw the spirit and pride of the Chamorro people on Guam, not everything can be taken care of locally. Medical care on the island is limited. There is one hospital with limited specialty care. Most people go to the Philippines, or if they can afford it, to Hawaii to get care.  While I was there, I passed several roadside stands with people collecting money. The locals explained these were families fund-raising to scrounge up the money to get off the island to get medical care.


It’s not an easy place to live, but if you’re from there, it’s home. It’s a place where people take care of each other. Where work life balance is not a thing because family comes first, and everyone respects that. It’s where heritage and culture matter; and the entire village will raise a child. It’s a place of beauty, inside and out.
Okay now that I’m tearing up, I’ll leave you with the back cover of the book. It’s the third book I’ve written for Harlequin Heartwarming and I know I’m not supposed to have a favorite book but…ahem…

I can not end this post without leaving you an image of Nico, a proud Chamorro man, for whom family is everything. So when he must chose between his wife and the rest of his family on Guam, what will he do?

Thank you for letting me share Guam with you. Don't forget to check out the other amazing January titles by by  Tara Taylor Quinn, Lee McKenzie and Patricia Johns

I love hearing from readers, feel free to sign up for my newsletter. I plan to send out some Chamorro recipes soon.  

So tell me, is there a place that’s stuck in your heart? 



20 comments:

  1. A great post with wonderful pictures. I think most of us have favorites, even if we don't like to admit it :-). Congratulations and good luck with yours. And Merry Christmas!

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  2. Sophia, it's challenging for me to think of the places that I've loved most when you so effectively transported me with your words to Guam. Your book is now near the top of my TBR pile! I very much look forward to reading MENDING THE DOCTOR'S HEART.

    Best wishes for your upcoming release!

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  3. Your work stint in Guam must have been a memorable experience, Sophia, for you to choose it as background for a novel. It does look idyllic. My interest is piqued and I look forward to reading MENDING THE DOCTOR'S HEART. All the best with your new release and thanks for introducing an unusual and lovely place to us.

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  4. Thank you Janice. It certainly captured my imagination and hope you enjoy it too.

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  5. Wow! What a great incentive to read your book, Sophia...fantastic post! “There is no one coming to save us, we are here by ourselves, whatever happens, we deal with it. We have to.” How does one respond to that? I'm so looking forward to reading this...if I can peel my eyes away from the beautiful cover. Congratulations!

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    1. Thank you. The quote stuck in my heart too and made it's way into the book.

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  6. Sophia, I love, love your books and this looks to be the most intriguing of all. Ditto Jill's comment. Fascinating. Good luck with it. I have to hurry to Amazon to get my copy ordered.

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    1. Thank you Catherine. I'm not supposed to say this but this one is my fav so far.

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  7. Sophia, what a gut-wrenching story you set on a beautiful island. My husband spent some time there when the Marines rebuilt a runway. He liked it a lot, too. I love to read stories set in places I don't get to travel to. Looking forward to your book. Cover is wonderful.

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  8. Oh my goodness! The blurb gave me chills. My small town in southeastern Arizona has a large population of people from Guam. (I have one in my classroom this year, actually). I can't wait to read your book!

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  9. Sophia, what a lovely post! Your passion for both this stunningly beautiful location and this story really shines through. Excited to read it!

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  10. Your book sounds fantastic, and I'm so honored to be your month-mate. :)

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  11. Great post, Sophia. I can't wait to read your story!

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  12. Guam looks gorgeous! I can't wait to get wrapped in your story and get transported there! <3

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