But This Is Different
It's the dawn of a new year. On a tiny, unchartered island in the South Pacific, residents are celebrating. Leading the ceremony is a woman known as "Mere." In the language of the island, her name means "Star of the Sea." Mere came to their island from the sea and became their star. Each day she works beside the islanders helping women in childbirth and providing comfort to the dying. She shields children from storms and teaches them how to build paper airplanes that actually fly. Outside the island, her existence is a closely guarded secret. Forty years ago, islanders entered into a solemn pact to keep her presence hidden from the rest of the world. It is a promise they have kept. But all that changes on the first day of 1978. In the craft full of gifts that always arrives with the new year, onboard a very unusual boat, is a letter to Mere from the woman known to the islanders as "Pilapan," or "Mother Chief". It is a letter that changes everything, that plunges Mere into a voyage of discovery. "All of my professional life I have insisted that death is a natural part of life ..." the letter says. "But this is diifferent. I am dying." And, indeed, from that point on everything changes -- for Mere and for readers who come along on this exploration of commitments and promises. It's a world that's familar and yet dramatically different. It will move you, and it might even change you in the process.
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