Book Review: My Hands Came Away Red

28 Nov

Right up until the day they burned the church, I thought I understood things. You know… God, people, myself. Life. Then, suddenly, I understood nothing except that we had to run. And that we might never make it home.

When eighteen-year-old Cori signed up for a mission trip to Indonesia she was mostly thinking about escaping her complicated love life, making new friends, and having fun on the beach.

She never expected a civil war to flare up on the nearby island of Ambon.

She never expected violence to find them.

And she never expected that seven teenagers would be forced to flee into the hazardous refuge of the mountains on their own.

Now, haunted by blood and fire, Cori and her teammates must rely on each other to survive.

Lisa McKay is an author and psychologist specializing in stress, trauma, and resilience. She is currently living in Laos. You can connect with Lisa at LisaMcKayWriting, FB, Twitter, and Goodreads.


My Impressions:

Lisa McKay’s debut novel (re-released in 2018) My Hands Came Away Red, takes the reader from the highs of a mission trip to a beautiful and exotic locale to horror, fear, and anger at God. This powerful YA suspense novel is achingly beautiful in its depiction of 6 young westerners forced to rely on each other to survive a nightmare in Indonesia. The author describes her book as a work of passion, and that comes through loud and clear in the first person narrative that takes the reader on an emotional journey along with the characters. And even though I am far away from my YA years, I loved this book. It is a very highly recommended read.

Cori is confused about her life — relationships, college choices — when she embarks on a grueling mission trip to build a church in a remote part of the world. Boot camp bonds the team and prepares them for their challenging task — or so they thought. Following the victory of finishing the small village church comes the devastation of death and destruction the team could never imagine. Cori’s narrative describes the highs and lows the team faces, along with the changes in their own understanding of life and God. The characters are all well-developed and become so very real to the reader. Of course Cori is the main focus, but McKay does a great job of bringing all the characters to life. There is plenty of drama, suspense, danger, and life-and-death moments to keep the pages turning. But it is the faith journey that the characters are forced to take that spoke to my heart. As the team’s situation deteriorates through illness, fatigue, dehydration, etc., their faith in God suffers as well. It is hard to maintain thankfulness and forgiveness when faced with extreme privation. And even the return to the safety of home does not bring the healing they expect.

There is a lot to discuss in My Hands Came Away Red, making this novel a great choice for a youth group or book club. It is a great springboard for conversations about the plight of believers around the world, the real meaning of a missional life, and the faithfulness of God even when we can’t or won’t see it. And don’t let the YA label fool you, adults are going to love this one too.

Very Highly Recommended.

Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase, click HERE. (It is currently FREE for Kindle Unlimited!)

(I purchased a copy of this book from Amazon. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)


8 Responses to “Book Review: My Hands Came Away Red”

  1. BeckieWrites November 28, 2018 at 6:03 am #

    Wow! This sounds like an excellent book. Thank you for this thoughtful review. I’m always particularly interested in literature that takes place in Southeast Asia or the Pacific Islands. This might be a good choice for my youth group in the future. Thanks for sharing!

    • rbclibrary November 28, 2018 at 7:11 am #

      It is powerful!

  2. susiesellnergmailcom November 28, 2018 at 8:21 am #

    I’ve ordered this book and will forward your review to the missions committee and the youth pastor at my church. Thanks for the review and recommendation.

    • rbclibrary November 28, 2018 at 8:35 am #

      Wonderful! Make sure to check out the author’s info. She is on mission too!

  3. Barbara H. November 28, 2018 at 12:59 pm #

    I just read this earlier this year and loved it. So powerful and meaningful on many levels.

    • rbclibrary November 28, 2018 at 5:44 pm #



  1. Top 10 Tuesday — Best of 2018 | By The Book - January 1, 2019

    […] My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay […]

  2. Top 10 Tuesday — 2018 New-To-Me Authors | By The Book - January 15, 2019

    […] Lisa McKay — My Hands Came Away Red […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: