I just read "Forgiving Ararat" by Gita Nazareth and highly recommend it. You can read the first two chapters and view the book trailer at www.forgivingararat.com. Here is my review:
"Forgiving Ararat", the first novel by Gita Nazareth, is a unique and inspiring afterlife adventure! The book's heroine is Brek Cuttler, a 31-year-old lawyer, wife and mother who happens to be recently deceased. Leaving behind her new baby daughter and TV reporter husband, Brek suddenly finds herself sitting in a deserted train station, not yet aware of her own passing. She meets Luas, who reveals she has come to a place called Shemaya, the place between life and death, Heaven and Hell. Luas looks like a combination of people she knows; he appears to each soul as they expect or desire to see him. In fact, much of what Brek sees is only because it's what she wants to see. When she wants, she sees herself in her favorite black silk suit but alternately she's naked and bloody, three bullet holes in her chest. She can't remember how she died and won't until she's ready.
We travel with Brek as she explores Shemaya, a place where all four seasons exist at once, where her long-dead great-grandmother waits with open arms, where God judges arriving souls and determines their eternal fate. Luas tells Brek she is to join his team of elite lawyers, charged with representing souls in the Final Judgment. As she clings desperately to her earthly life, in agony longing for her family, she struggles with her new job in the afterlife. To learn her new trade, she observes the trials of other souls, viewing glimpses of their lives through their own eyes. As she watches their lives unfold, connections form leading her to solve the mystery of her own death. Meantime, she recalls pivotal moments in her life; she puts childhood friends "on trial" for crayfish murder, struggles to accept her parents' divorce, and confesses her deepest and darkest secret. And we see that it's justice she's been after since childhood, that's why she became a lawyer. And it is justice she seeks in death.
Religious themes are prevalent throughout the novel, mostly Judeo-Christian with some hints of Buddhism. Raised Catholic, Brek is drawn to Judaism, the religion of her husband. With Brek we visit the Garden of Eden and sway on the deck with Noah. And it is the afterlife after all, so she eats whatever she wants without gaining an ounce, shops without money, climbs mountains without breaking a sweat and travels to whatever destination she imagines. Well-drawn characters from her life and those she meets after death all add to the suspense.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book!! The author drew me in so deeply, I felt Brek's every emotion. The author creates an image of the afterlife that is altogether beautiful, frightening, gory, inspiring, mysterious, joyful and sad. I think anyone, regardless of their beliefs, can gain something from reading this book. It's a murder mystery, supernatural thriller and theological debate all rolled into one. Clever and imaginative, "Forgiving Ararat" is a must-read!