No more hiding. This has become Dove Strong’s motto. But then her worst nightmare comes true. Her family disappears from their secluded tree home, and they’re not the only Christians in the nation who’ve been snatched. All clues about the numerous disappearances point to nonbelievers...and the remaining believers are not happy.
While Dove and her cousin, Trinity, hunt for the missing Christians, Dove stumbles upon a secret plan to force the Reclaim. Already, vengeful Christians gather in local camps to train for battle, and Dove’s brother is one of the bloodthirsty.
Will Dove have the strength to rise up, put a stop to this war, and save her family before a red stain covers the nation?
My fistful of carrots flopped onto the pasture’s dead grass. I paused with the spear’s red-stained tip two paces from my heart.
A couple dozen pointed poles and pronged branches stuck out horizontally from the giant juniper bush at the edge of the forest, positioned to impale the unlucky trespasser who stumbled too close. While I’d harvested the summer’s early vegetables from Wolfe’s backyard, my brother had been busy beefing up Micah Brae’s home security.
I scratched the red wooden point with my fingernail. Not blood. Beet juice...from our garden patch.
“Gilead, this paranoia of yours is stupid. We’re here to live peaceably with these people. Not skewer them.”
His humming dropped off, though he continued to secure another spear. “Don’t stand there hollering in the open, Dove. You’ll attract the enemy. On second thought, keep hollering. I wouldn’t mind trying out his new defensive boundary while it’s still light.”
Trinity paused in the act of hanging what appeared be a glass wind chime above Micah’s prickly doorway. She jingled it at my lifted brow. “Burglar alarm. To wake Micah if anyone tries to sneak in while he’s sleeping. Plus, it’s the color of smoke.”
“And the color of your eyes. Subtle.” I snorted. Trinity had strewn reminders of herself everywhere in our neighbor’s cramped, juniper-bush dwelling—from a corn silk pillow the exact hue of her hair to duplicates of her tattoos scratched in the forest floor. She’d planted these subliminal messages in hopes that he would stop being blind to the fact that he liked her in the same way that she liked him.
Gilead fastened a spike next to the wind chime. He paused suddenly, and his expression threw daggers at the pole in my hand. “Sky alive, Dove! You didn’t dismantle the defensive perimeter I put up at our place, did you?”
“Only a few spears.” I didn’t add that I’d tried to remove all of them but hadn’t been able to wrestle them off the shelter that he, my cousin, and I shared. “You put them up, so you get to take them down.”
“Don’t be an idiot. We need them intact.”
“I’m the idiot? Your perimeter won’t stop fire. Arson is our biggest threat.”
He bent to straighten a pronged stick. “It’s too dry this season for intentional arson. Even the most brainless demon from this town will think twice before turning our shelter into a fireball. They’d burn up their own homes, too.”
I couldn’t argue. Even now, the brassy sun seared my exposed skin like a cooking fire and stole the moisture from my lips. “Fine, Gil, but your spikes won’t stop any dogs. You’ve positioned them too high.”
“My second perimeter—the outer one—will take care of any dogs or creatures without foot protection. Haven’t you noticed the burr rings I’ve set in the weeds? They begin ten yards out and get thicker the closer you get to our place. The hounds will go limping home if they try to nose around.”
I’d spent a painful hour this morning digging a barbed spike-ball out of my palm. My brother had planted the tiny, torturing bits of nature near our front door on purpose? I swung the blunt end of my pole at his shaggy head to thump some sense into him. He caught it without looking.
The glass tinkled above Trinity’s upstretched arms. “Not cool, Gil. I had to cut half my braid off to get two burrs out yesterday. Keep it up, and I’ll end up looking like her.” She thrust a piece of wind chime in the direction of my blonde, chopped-to-shoulder-length hair.
Micah aimed a pair of wistful eyes at me.
I let go of my tug-of-warring pole and pointed in the direction I’d come. “Gilead, you and Trinity should have been waiting at our place today. What if you all missed Uncle Saul when you were messing around here? You were supposed to be on the lookout for him.”
“He’d check here at Micah’s—or at his place—before giving up on finding us. Isn’t that where you were? His place?”
Gilead meant Wolfe’s property. Since relocating to Sisters, he had yet to call my non-Christian friend by name.
I gazed at the treetops to the east, in the direction of my family’s out-of-sight home in Ochoco. “Saul said he’d bring us news from home every Saturday. It’s been three Saturdays since we saw him...I think.”
Gilead shrugged, but Micah disappeared inside his juniper bush.
“Eleven...twelve...thir-thirteen...” His labored counting continued. The Brae guy kept a tally of each day in this enemy territory where we’d agreed to live for a year as part of the Christian Sent.
His dark head poked out and set the wind chime jingling. “Twenty-two. Twenty-two days since Saul’s last visit. You’re right, Dove. You’re absolutely right.” He eyed me. A dog wanting a pat from its master.
Gilead secured another horizontal pole to the prickly bough. “Well, did he give you any useful information about what could have stopped Saul? Any report of accidents? Wildfires between here and Ochoco? Attacks?”
I shook my head. Wolfe didn’t like to relay bad news. What I knew about the famine, high food costs, and the devastating nation-wide drought, I’d learned from his kid sister, Jezebel. She reported information better than our radio back home.
My brother pulled out his hunting knife and began to whittle a branch’s tip. “What a good-for-nothing guy. What a worthless, waste of a human—”
“Probably your uncle went crazy again. He probably forgot where you live now.” Jezebel popped up from behind a boulder where she’d been spying. “He’ll show up when he remembers. But Dove and I’ll go ask my brother if he’s heard anything...since the rest of you are too chicken to leave your forts to find out.”
In three strides, Gilead towered over the girl. He cracked his knuckles. “OK, Spy. Let’s find your brother. Now!”
Trinity dropped the vine supporting her glass pieces. “Chill, Gil. She’s like five years old. Anyway, my dad’s not crazy.”
“Who’s five?” Jezebel’s bottom teeth clamped over her upper lip in a fierce underbite while she rolled to her sandaled feet. The brown grass clump from her hand rained against my brother’s earth tone pantleg. “C’mon, Dove.”
Trinity came to stand at my shoulder. “I’ll come, too. Micah? Want to go check why my dad’s delayed?”
“No. No, I’ll, uh...I’ll finish up here. I’d like to find out what’s going on, but I’d better finish the perimeter. The perimeter is the most important part of security. But you could bring me some corn. Or some strawberries.”
Strawberries. Trinity’s dreamy, wide-set eyes crinkled in a smile. She touched her wrist where years ago she’d inked on the strawberry plant. A matching drawing ran the perimeter of his shelter’s floor.
“It’s working,” she mouthed.
Gilead, gripping a whittled branch, marched through the center of the field with Jezebel instead of slipping through the bordering foliage toward the paved road that led to the Picketts’ home. He barreled through a herd of cows, slapping one on its bony rump. Who’s a coward?
Trinity and I followed, staying closer to the forest’s edge and away from the vast, gray roofs of the godless houses that loomed through patches of dying vegetation. As we passed by our own shelter, we were careful to avoid my brother’s planted burrs.
My eyes narrowed at my temporary home. Trinity’s swags of dandelion chains and old-man’s-beard moss drooped in artistic intervals around the top of our bushy enclosure. Gilead’s wicked spikes encircled the entire copse of arborvitae trees at chest and throat level, complete with a jagged, teethlike collection of poles at our semi-secret entrance.
Had the Heathen who lived in those boxy homes noticed the unnatural changes—poles and flowers— to this arborvitae copse? How long until a resident of Sisters guessed that this tight knit group of abandoned landscaping trees in the field housed three people?
I hopped the cow fence and faced signs of Heathen life in Sisters. Enormous homes. Sleek cars. And staring humans.
We stepped among them. I no longer searched for hiding spots like I used to when I walked the nonbelievers’ turf. I was part of the Sent, and we Sent weren’t in the Enemy’s territory to hide. We were here to represent Christ for our nation’s spiritual revival—a type of nonviolent war fought by us showing our love of Christ.
I alone of my cousin, brother, and Micah—also the Sent—ever remembered our mission.
Gilead marched along with stiff, raised shoulders. Uncomfortable and on guard. Trinity shuffled behind, hunched over with her eyes darting up to the sparse trees like mine used to.
Nowadays, I focused on the pavement in hopes I wasn’t recognized as the girl from the television show. My family was clueless about my two-week survival in the Texan desert last spring—all for Heathen viewing pleasure. They’d never travelled the road out of town, so they didn’t see my face on the billboard. They blamed Wolfe for the extra attention I received from nonbelievers.
“Rainbow,” Trinity muttered. “Ten o’clock.”
To my right, a nonbeliever aimed a jet of hose water away from himself. Defensively. As if to force us to keep our distance from his dripping, squashed-egg car. The faded arc of colors wavered from the hose’s blast that splattered from the edge of our path.
He hooked a finger at Jezebel. “Hey, kid. You know you’re walking with freaks? Why don’t you get away from—hey!”
The water trickled to a stop. Clunk. Gilead tossed the hose he’d knotted onto the front of the vehicle and glared down into the stranger’s flushed, pop-eyed face. The man’s factory-made shoes stayed rooted to the wet pavement, but his upper body bowed backward, retreating from my brother’s fierce bulk.
I jerked Gilead’s arm to get him walking. “You may as well go back to Mom and Grandpa if you’re going to pull stuff like that. We’re supposed to be likeable, not jerks—ow!”
Unexpected sharpness jabbed between my shoulder blades. With a sharp exhale, I whirled around.
A familiar female with purple irises stood with feet apart, levelling an arrow from a medieval bow weapon at my collarbone. My brother yanked me away from its trajectory. “Beat it, Diamond. I’ve no time for your games, so step aside.”
She adjusted so its lethal tip pointed at my brother. “You should really listen to that smart man, Jezebel. Stay away from freaks.”
Question 1: Explain how Trinity Strong changes from the beginning of her journey to the end. You may address physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual changes.
Answer 1: Trinity Strong changes physically in that she wears traditional Christians clothes and later adopts a style with short sleeves and a hair braid that she wears down. She changes mentally and emotionally when she loses her fear of walking among nonbelievers. She also changes mentally and spiritually when she realizes and accepts that her gift from God is more than recognizing the potential beauty in others. She sees her gift is recognizing God himself and His will for her life.
Question 2: Stone Bender makes a final decision to assist Dove in destroying his brother’s power source. Why do you think he chooses to go against his brother? Support your guess with clues that you see in Stone before that moment of assist.
Answer 2: Stone makes the decision to go against his brother at the end of Sent Rising because he is weary of causing others to suffer. He hates violence and hurting others, and his brother, Reed, commands him to do despicable acts against people again and again. When Stone sees Dove’s look-alike cousin, Trinity, fall lethally, he is jarred and realizes he can’t hurt Dove or deny her truths about nonviolence anymore. Some clues in the story are Stone repeating that he won’t hurt Dove, his questioning Reed’s plan in the cave, and Stone’s haggard appearance on the golf course that shows he is ill over the situation.
Question 3: Do you believe Wolfe Pickett becomes a true Christian, or do you believe he pretends in order to please Dove? Explain your reasoning.
Answer 3: Wolfe Pickett becomes a true Christian and is not pretending in order to please Dove. The evidence is that he is raptured alongside the rest of the true Christians. Other hints of his growing relationship with God would be his claim that he acquired a Bible and has been reading it. He also speaks of salvation to Lobo. Earlier he reveals his knowledge of the Ten Commandments, the Armor of God, and the song Jesus Loves Me.
Question 4: Dove reunites with Melody Brae on the Californian beach. Discuss whether or not there was anything Dove could say or do to persuade Melody to be brave and ditch Reed.
Answer 4: I don’t believe Dove could have persuaded Melody to leave Reed. Melody had to decide herself. I believe Dove’s kindness in guiding her over the rocks, despite Melody’s betrayal, helped Melody realize on the final night that Dove was not only telling the truth about what God’s will, but that Dove was her true friend. At that point, Melody gained the courage to leave Reed and join Dove.
Question 5: Why does Dove become emotional when Lobo interviews her?
Answer 5: Dove’s heart is breaking for the people who don’t have salvation and who will spend their eternities in Hell.
Question 6: Dove doesn’t have many belongings, but she is not upset when her temporary home and all her possessions in the cow pasture burn up. Which belonging would you most miss if your home and your possessions were destroyed? Why?
Answer 6: Answers will vary. Hopefully, whatever object we miss the most, we realize that object has the potential of being an idol in our lives, which is not okay. An idol is any person or thing that we love more than God.
Question 7: At the end of Sent Rising, Dove finally understands what the true red color of her dreams represents. Explain what she found the red to actually mean.
Answer 7: The symbolic color wasn’t from an earthly bloodbath or a war. It was Jesus’s blood. The red meant His perfect blood He’d already shed in order to cover us sinful humans with his righteousness. His blood is the only source of eternal life.
Question 8: Dove shouts at the Christians in the camps that they are sinning and to stop wasting their time physically training for the Reclaim. What would have been another effective way to convince Christians?
Answer 8: Answers will vary. Dove could have asked other prayer warriors to speak out at the camps so she wasn’t alone in her mission. She might have been more effective spreading her message. Dove also could have delivered her message without insulting her listeners. Calling people names such as liars, sinners, or fools causes them to feel defensive, and they less likely to consider a change.
Question 9: Which character in Sent Rising do you feel you identify with most and why?
Answer 9 Answers will vary. Dove might be an example of someone who feels isolated from others because of beliefs or lack of social skills. Someone might identify with Trinity because she is artistic. A worrier might identify with Chaff, while someone who is unconfident and apologizes frequently might understand Melody’s outlook. A confident speaker would feel akin to Rebecca. Wolfe faces life and his problems with humor.
Question 10: Did the final chapter of Sent Rising surprise you? Read Acts 2:17-21. Then list some clues from the sky and the state of the earth that point to the possible end times in Sent Rising.
Answer 10: Some clues from the sky, pointing to it being the end times, are the red moon, darker sun, and constant meteors and changes in the stars. Clues from the state of the earth include famine, war, blood, fire, and smoke. The verses in Acts point to God pouring out His Spirit on his people, resulting in spiritual gifts.