Paradise Found is the end of the journey for Amelia. She’s endured a lot in her 16 ½ years that amounts to more than anything an adolescent should experience. Whereas the previous story centers on Amelia’s escape from her father, now Amelia is finally free. She has her family, her crush Gabrielle, and new beginnings with the civilization of Esoterica. Life should be looking up, but Amelia finds herself more confused.
Even though Amelia is free to do what she wants, she’s still a teenager, who’s trying to find herself. In this installment, Amelia’s feelings for Gabrielle flourish, but she’s unsure if her crush feels the same. Not to mention, the rest of the bunch at the apple farm at Esoterica isn’t what Amelia expected. Esoterica is supposed to be paradise, but it appears the place has some trouble. Amelia can’t handle it. Even though she is a teen, she does what anyone might do – run from her problems.
By this time, the story takes a slight turn as Amelia takes a road trip with some old friends to figure out what she wants in life. By the time the road trip is over, Amelia must decide.
Between chapters are interesting facts that relate to the changes happening in the novel. Sometimes these passages are long, but they can be informative. Some of the secondary characters’ physical descriptions and dialect are a bit bias, but because these characters are so minor their depictions can be overlooked.
This last book focuses more on sexuality, freedom, and new civilization. I think it’s a good conclusion to the series, but it did leave me wanting a little more.
Purchase Paradise Found here
With the author's permission, attached below is an interview about her novel Esoterica. I believe this interview conducted a few years ago will give readers a better understanding of the "Living in Secret" author Cristina Salat. You can purchase Esoterica here. Here's the interview below:
How did you come to write a sequel to LIVING IN SECRET?
Truthfully, I've always known what the next steps on Amelia's journey were...plus I really like these characters, and wanted to spend more time with them. It just took awhile for the rest of society to catch up enough for me to be able to do the next parts of the story justice!
Does ESOTERICA, or the novel that preceded it, come from your own life experience?
Yes and no. None of what any characters in any of my novels live are specifically experiences from my own life, however they are all real life things many people experience...and circumstances I care deeply about.
Characters from a different novel THE SKIN OF WATER: DEFENDING THE DREAMCATCHERS also appear in ESOTERICA. Was this intentional?
Actually, I had no idea Pipsqueak and later Missy from THE SKIN OF WATER were going to play a pivotal part in ESOTERICA...until all of a sudden they appeared. That is how the kind of writing I most enjoy goes for me though. I'll know the subject matter and main plot points when I sit down to begin birthing a novel, but then (unless I am under deadline) I just let the story take us where it wants and needs to go. Which means, just like for readers, there can be surprises for me too along the way.
How do readers respond to your somewhat unconventional work?
I'm delighted that reviews and mail I've received over the years are generally characterized by comments like: "(this book) became my favourite book for about 2 years and I read it 3 times after that. I loved it every time. It's such a truthful and organic story and it's what first introduced me to the brutality and reality of the world -gay and everythang! *warning - very emotional ending* but I think it's something everyone should read at least once in their life perhaps best in the teenage years but great either way." I used to often feel ahead of the curve with things like civil rights for all and the fact that no parent or family member should ever be raping their young relatives — which seemed blatantly obvious to me — still considered "cutting edge" or "controversial" by society at large. It was mighty frustrating sometimes, when agents and publishers wanted me to tone down the parts of my work that felt viscerally important to exactly the stories I was trying to tell. But these days — as each new generation arrives on Planet Earth and sets a new tone regarding what's important to them — it seems as if more and more people, especially young people, are interested in things like tolerance and change and creating a more peaceful, fair sense of community, locally and worldwide, for everyone. Yay. I guess I was just a millennial ahead of my time! ;)
ESOTERICA ends with a new set of adventures Amelia could choose between. Will there be a sequel to this sequel?!
Yes! Believe it or not, when I began writing the "end" to this character's first (LIVING IN SECRET) story, after having gotten requests to know "what happened?!" for years, I was thinking in terms of perhaps just offering an epilogue to the original story. After all, by 2015 gay people were legally able to marry, which meant that aspect of custody battles was no longer as fraught with drama as it had once been...so perhaps I would just give the characters the happy ending they so richly deserved? On the other hand, right from the first draft of Amelia's initial tale, I was aware of other paths the realities of parental kidnapping and custody issues go down...so I knew a whole second book about that was possible. And when I sat down to write, that is what poured out. Not an epilogue. A full second book. A sequel. And in the midst of writing that, the inklings of yet a third novel — i.e. what happens after where ESOTERICA leaves off — started coming through. So yes, the sequel to the sequel — entitled PARADISE FOUND — has just flowed from my pen: https://www.amazon.com/ParadiseFound-Gathering-Dreamcatchers-Novelebook/dp/B07DS7FGVZ/ Readers who enjoyed seeing what became of characters from the San FranciscoNew Mexico novel THE SKIN OF WATER will be happy to hear some special individuals from that novel were apparently meant to show up in this newest 'Dreamcatcher' novel too. And actually, since this collection of books aren't all 'sequels' per se, these days I'm just calling them: 'Gathering The Dreamcatchers' companion novels.
Stay tuned! :)
Roxanne Ridge writes for the youth. Not to mention, writing is peaceful.