NECESSARY HEARTBREAK

A Novel of Faith and Forgiveness

Michael J Sullivan

Necessary Heartbreak tells the story of Michael, a single dad from New York who has lost his faith after his wife’s death and is struggling to raise his feisty fourteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. When Michael and Elizabeth stumble upon a trapdoor in their church basement, they discover a portal leading back to first-century Jerusalem during the tumultuous last week of Christ’s life. There they encounter Leah, a grieving widow; a menacing soldier who is determined to take Elizabeth as his own; Judas on the last night of his life; and a close-up of the man Jesus.

Unable to return to the present,

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Necessary Heartbreak tells the story of Michael, a single dad from New York who has lost his faith after his wife’s death and is struggling to raise his feisty fourteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. When Michael and Elizabeth stumble upon a trapdoor in their church basement, they discover a portal leading back to first-century Jerusalem during the tumultuous last week of Christ’s life. There they encounter Leah, a grieving widow; a menacing soldier who is determined to take Elizabeth as his own; Judas on the last night of his life; and a close-up of the man Jesus.

Unable to return to the present, Michael comes face-to-face with some of his most limiting beliefs and realizes he must open himself up to the possibility of a deeper faith in people, in himself, and in love if he is to find his way home.

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  • Pocket Books
  • Paperback
  • April 2010
  • 256 Pages
  • 9781439184233

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About Michael J Sullivan

Michael J. Sullivan is an author and sports writer living in New York who graduated from St. John’s University, and is a member of the McDonald’s All-American Selection Boys Basketball Committee and the Parade All-American Selection Committee. Michael hosted sports radio shows on WGBB on Long Island, NY, and WEVD 1050AM in New York City, as well as worked with ESPN and Sporting News. In addition to writing the When Time Forgets series, Michael covers high school and college sports for Fox-owned Scout.com, which involves daily activity on ten to twelve message boards as well as writing approximately 100 articles each month.

Michael has published a number of books through established trade houses, including the trivia book So You Think You’re a New Yorker, which was an iconic work lauded by columnist Cindy Adams. In addition, he published seven sports-themed books for children through Enslow, and a volume of a children’s book series through HarperCollins.

Praise

“A beautiful book. . . . I applaud Michael J. Sullivan for bringing his story to life.” —Eric Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Fireproof and Haunt of Jackals

“Necessary Heartbreak is the product of a big talent and a mighty heart, and this entrancing tale of mysteries both temporal and spiritual is sure to take up residence under your skin.”
Sam Hamm, Screenwriter (Batman movies)

Necessary Heartbreak is the first of Sullivan’s trilogy, which opens with quite the proverbial bang.”Midwest Book Review

“I thoroughly enjoyed this book and eagerly await the volumes that are slated to follow. I highly recommend it.”
Pastor Marc Axelrod (Potter, WI)

Discussion Questions

Compare Michael and Elizabeth’s relationship with Michael’s relationship with his own father. How are their power struggles and communication difficulties similar and different?

 

Discuss Michael’s relationship with religion. What changed his once-strong faith? How is his belief in God different at the end of the novel? How do Elizabeth’s and Leah’s faith change throughout the novel?

 

Is Michael too overprotective, or just a concerned parent? Does Michael use his fear for Elizabeth to hold himself back from life? Why does he push people away?

 

Why does Michael consistently avoid women and feel almost uncomfortable with them? What is he afraid of? Why does he have so much trouble letting go of Vicki and moving on, going so far as to search for her in Jerusalem?

 

Talk about the different ways Michael and Elizabeth deal with losing Vicki. Throughout the story, they hide their emotions from each other. Why can’t they talk about her with each other? Why do they each blame themselves for her death, when clearly it’s neither one’s fault?

 

How did the narrative format of the novel, incorporating flashbacks throughout, impact your read?

 

Why does Leah take Michael and Elizabeth in so easily? How are they able to accept life together so quickly? What do they learn from each other? What do Michael and Leah see in each other of their missing spouses?

 

Leah and Michael discuss having a “reverence for life,” in both Leah’s time and Michael’s. Michael admits that not much has changed. Reread the passage on pages 157–158 and talk about how the two cultures respect life.

 

Discuss the difference between “kill” and “sacrifice.” Why does Leah ultimately decide not to sacrifice Cassie? What does Elizabeth learn from Cassie? Discuss Cassie’s significance to the story and what she symbolizes.

 

What does Michael make Leah believe?

 

How is the second time Michael denies Christ different from the first?

 

Why do Michael and Elizabeth keep finding excuses to stay in Jerusalem one more day? Is it because they’re drawn to Jesus, or do you see another reason?

 

Why are Michael and Elizabeth so intent on helping Jesus, even though they know how the scene will play out? Why must Michael shoulder his burden? How can Elizabeth lift Michael’s burden?

 

How does Leah break through Michael’s façade? Why doesn’t he ask her to come home with them? Did you like the ending of the book? Why or why not?

 

How does heartbreak shape each character? Do you agree with the title, that heartbreak is sometimes necessary?