Sunday, February 26, 2017

A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison

A beloved American corporation with an explosive secret. A disgraced former journalist looking for redemption. A corporate executive with nothing left to lose.

In Dhaka, Bangladesh, a garment factory burns to the ground, claiming the lives of hundreds of workers, mostly young women. Amid the rubble, a bystander captures a heart-stopping photograph—a teenage girl lying in the dirt, her body broken by a multi-story fall, and over her mouth a mask of fabric bearing the label of one of America’s largest retailers, Presto Omnishops Corporation.

Eight thousand miles away, at Presto’s headquarters in Virginia, Cameron Alexander, the company’s long-time general counsel, watches the media coverage of the fire in horror, wondering if the damage can be contained. When the photo goes viral, fanning the flames of a decades old controversy about sweatshops, labor rights, and the ethics of globalization, he launches an investigation into the disaster that will reach farther than he could ever imagine - and threaten everything he has left in the world.

A year later, in Washington, D.C., Joshua Griswold, a disgraced former journalist from the Washington Post, receives an anonymous summons from a corporate whistleblower who offers him confidential information about Presto and the fire. For Griswold, the challenge of exposing Presto’s culpability is irresistible, as is the chance, however slight, at redemption. Deploying his old journalistic skills, he builds a historic case against Presto, setting the stage for a war in the courtroom and in the media that Griswold is determined to win—both to salvage his reputation and to provoke a revolution of conscience in Presto’s boardroom that could transform the fashion industry across the globe. 

My review:

  I had been wanting to read one of Corbin Addison's books for a while. I am hesitant to buy a book by an author I have never read, but then this came up for review from Thomas Nelson/Zondervan, and that gave me the chance to read  and review it.

  My first thought after finishing the book was "I'm never buying clothes again." This is more than a fiction novel. It is an expose' on the fashion industry and what goes on behind the scenes. The story in the book is based on something that did happen, and the author took that news story and built his fictional novel around it.

 The book is very educational. Though the people in the book are fictional, what goes on in these factories and sweat shops is not fictional. Even as I was entertained by the drama of the book, I was sickened to realize what goes on in these factories around the world so we Americans can have nice clothing to buy. As I walked through the men's department at Walmart this past week, I found myself wondering how many of the clothing there were made under conditions described in the book. I wondered how many people would even care if we did know.

  Though that part of the book is disturbing, this is a very entertaining read. It takes the reader all over the world, and introduces all sorts of characters living in all sorts of conditions. From the wealthy Americans running a business that turns a blind eye to what is going on in their factories across the sea, to the people living in deplorable conditions and making deplorable money to make expensive clothing for Americans. I found myself liking a lot of the characters, and rooting for justice to happen for those who had been wronged and were suffering because of poor work conditions.

 The book had a surprising ending. I would have liked to have had it end a different way, but it still had a good ending. Addison's writing style is nothing short of brilliant, and I read the book much quicker than I figured I would. It is a book that entertains while opening your eyes and making you think.

  And though I gave it my "read-in-one-sitting" label, I did read it over the period of a few days, mostly on lunch and other breaks at work. I is the kind of book that is hard to put down, so I gave it that label.

What I didn't like:
  This is by no stretch of the imagination a Christian fiction title, even though a Christian publisher published it. It is a story of good vs evil, and Christian principles are found in the book and some of the characters' actions, but it not Christian. That doesn't bother me. What does, is the language. There are several occurrences of curse words throughout the book. Nelson was doing pretty badly in that area for a while, but I thought they had backed away from that..... but this book shows they did not. I won't spell the words out, but they did thankfully stop short of using the "F-word", but pretty much everything else was allowed. I remain steadfast in my belief that a Christian publisher should have no curse words in a book, so I was very bothered by the language. That is one reason I primarily read Christian fiction. Maybe they were so happy to snag an author as this, that they decided to go back in the gutter and allow curse words again. I hope they don't continue the practice.

 Other than  that, this was one of the best books I have read this year. Other than the cursing, I highly recommend it, though you may never look at buying clothing the same again.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the author:

Corban Addison holds degrees in law and engineering from the University of Virginia and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He began to experiment with writing at the age of fifteen, about the same time he developed an interest in international travel. His early works were mostly essays, reflections and travelogues, but his true love was fiction. For eight years he searched for a story with wings. In the end, the story found him.

In the summer of 2008, Addison’s wife gave him an idea that he found irresistible—a novel on the global trade in human beings. Despite the increasing demands of career and family, he embarked upon an odyssey that took him to India and Europe and into the corridors of power in Washington, D.C. In immersing himself in the world of modern-day slavery, he spent time with experts and activists in the field and went undercover into the brothels of Mumbai to meet trafficking victims firsthand.

Out of this journey, A Walk Across the Sun was born. It is a novel that brings together three of Addison’s great passions—storytelling, human rights, and the world and its cultures—in a narrative that enlightens while it entertains. Addison is a supporter of international justice causes, including the abolition of modern slavery, and he is committed to broadening this support through the publication of A Walk Across the Sun.

Check out his website at

A Harvest of Thorns is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to BookLook Bloggers for the review copy.