A Home for the Lost by Sharon Maas
A gripping and heartbreaking read, based on the true story of the Jonestown cult, one of the darkest chapters in American history.
When journalist Zoe Quint loses her husband and child in a tragic accident, she returns home to Guyana to heal. But when she hears cries and music floating through the trees, her curiosity compels her to learn more about the Americans who have set up camp in a run-down village nearby. Their leader, Jim Jones, dark eyed and charismatic, claims to be a peaceful man who has promised his followers paradise.
But everything changes when Zoe meets one of his followers, a young woman called Lucy, in a ramshackle grocery store. Lucy grabs Zoe’s arm, raw terror in her eyes, and passes her a note with a phone number, begging her to call her mother in America.
Zoe is determined to help Lucy, but locals warn her to stay away from the camp, and as sirens and gunshots echo through the jungle at nightfall, she knows they are right. But she can’t shake the frightened woman’s face from her mind, and when she discovers that there are young children kept in the camp, she has to act fast.
Zoe’s only route to the lost people is to get close to their leader, Jim Jones. But if she is accepted, will she be able to persuade the frightened followers to risk their lives and embark on a perilous escape under the cover of darkness? And when Jim Jones hears of her plans, could she pay the highest price of all?
The sixties were a time of cultural revolution in the United States. Disaffected people fled the country and joined a cult headed by Jim Jones called Jonestown. In the US, schools and cities were burned and cultural divisiveness was rampant. Jonestown in Guyana was where young people could escape and return to the roots of civilization.
Reverend Jones had taken a thousand or more men, women and children to his ‘utopian stronghold” so that they might live the good life. They were to be free from want as they were working together to establish the perfect colony. The problem was that Jim Jones was a megalomaniac who was out of touch with reality. He felt that he was the only man on earth who should be breeding the women of the planet.
Zoe is a freelance investigative reporter who wants to go to Guyana and report on the enclave and the people living there. What she finds is far from the utopia promised! A few of the people control everything and all of the others are peons whose sole function is to grow the food and support the community.
Zoe is assisted by a U.S. Congressman named Ryan. He has been hearing rumors of a very different and frightening encampment in the jungle. He and an entourage are going on behalf of the U.S. Government to investigate the rumors and accusations. Zoe worms her way into the compound to write an honest exposé on the community. Her reputation for honest journalism garners Jones’ trust.
The living conditions are adequate but the society is very rigid and structured. One of the residents begs Zoe to help her escape Jamestown and return with her three children to the U.S. and her family. Zoe’s adventures spread a bright light on a very despotic environment and the mental problems with Jim Jones. The book shows the horrendous results of a planned utopian community gone very wrong.
This is a very dark exposé of a footnote in American history in the 1960s. Read the book and weep over the nearly 700 that drink poisoned Kool-Aid to escape this troubled world and join Reverend Jones in a utopian paradise. 4.5 stars – CE Williams
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with the opportunity to read and review this book.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars
Genre: Women’s Detective Fiction, Historical Literary Fiction
Print Length: 453 pages
Publication Date: June 23, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link: A Home for the Lost [Amazon]
The Author: Sharon Maas was born into a prominent political family in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1951. She was educated in England, Guyana, and, later, Germany. After leaving school, she worked as a trainee reporter with the Guyana Graphic in Georgetown and later wrote feature articles for the Sunday Chronicle as a staff journalist.
Her first novel, Of Marriageable Age, is set in Guyana and India and was published by HarperCollins in 1999. In 2014 she moved to Bookouture, and now has ten novels under her belt. Her books span continents, cultures, and eras. From the sugar plantations of colonial British Guiana in South America, to the French battlefields of World War Two, to the present-day brothels of Mumbai and the rice-fields and villages of South India, Sharon never runs out of stories for the armchair traveller.
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©2022 CE Williams – V Williams