The meaning of life seems so much a part of what we wonder on a daily basis, and is a question that is asked by almost everyone at some point in their life. While there seem to be no real answers, there is always the foray into spiritualism, which seems to give its own form of answers. At the same time, even this sojourn often leaves just as many questions.
In A View from a Height, J.E. Murphy takes us into the world of a young woman Dawn Bang. Born of Chinese decent she has always felt she is different. She could hear things others could not; she could feel the pulse of the world. Living in Hawaii, she is also made to feel different, and as she grows up, she finds it easier to block out the sounds and feelings with alcohol and drugs. Living a life of desperation and shame, she is unprepared for her death when it happens.
Taking a stand to save an endangered species as her boyfriend of the time races down the roadway to kill it, she grabs the steering wheel and runs them into a muddy ditch. This, however, is not the end. As she tries to pull herself from the muddy, wet ditch and she grabs what she believes is a branch to help, she finds herself looking down on the crumpled body of a young woman. Even as she watches emergency vehicles show up, she sees that this woman is her, and that the branch was actually a live wire that was knocked down by the impact of the car.
It would seem that this is the end of her journey, yet it appears as though it was not her time at all. As she finds herself in a beautiful place full of love and understanding her fear disappears. This is a place of transition, but she is made aware that there is more for her in the world. She has a job to do, and she has not even begun. Even as she feels the love and acceptance, she is abruptly pulled back into her own body, here in the real world.
So begins the beautiful, yet painful, soulful and amazing life of a woman who becomes more than who she is. This is a truly enlightening tale of love and war, of the menaces of pride and of how this young woman begins a journey that is so fundamentally real, yet becomes so much more.
The story was not what I expected as I picked it up. I was initially daunted at the size of the work, and yet as I began the story I had trouble putting it down. As I moved on to other tasks it followed me, keeping my thoughts on what would happen next. I felt the depth of her joy, and the pain and degradation with her. As she connects with others that are on parallel journeys with her, they too became my friends and mentors. I found an odd connectedness about this book that is hard to decipher. The descriptions are vivid, and the tone is flowing. The evil that would often infect the world in her journey was truly something that seemed both real and unnerving.
For the science fiction and reality buffs, Murphy introduces us to an amazing dirigible, used to transport many of the characters from the West Coast, to Hawaii and on to China. This is an integral part of the process of the book and gives us another layer of thought. It is an amazing machine and the computer technology alone is exciting. The intricate and amazing description of the vehicle creates a wonderful backdrop for much of what happens throughout the story.
There is so much and more of this book than I can explain. I would recommend it for those who feel a spiritual connection, who believe in karma and often have questions on life. I would also recommend it for those who want to know more about the world, as there is a kaleidoscope of places to read about. It would be a marvelous book for a book club and reading group, adding discussion upon discussion. It would be a great book for your permanent library. The information and the story itself could be reread time after time. This book will take you on a journey, only you can decide if it is one you want to transverse.