Lisa McKay’s 2007 novel, My Hands Came Away Red, is one of the most moving and beautifully written stories I have read. If you haven’t read this book, I encourage you to do so without delay, whether you are a teen or an adult
Lisa has been kind enough to share about her main character, Aussie girl Cori, and we have added pictures of how we imagined the rest of her missions team to look!
For those of you have read this story, we’d love to know what you think!
I deliberately didn’t include a lot of physical detail about Cori in the book. There were a couple of reasons for that. I usually hate it when the narrators of books written in the first person look in the mirror and “take inventory” and describe what they look like. Personally, I think it’s very hard to pull off narrator self-description without it coming across as cheesy, and I really don’t like cheesy. But, just as importantly, I wanted people reading the story to paint Cori in their own minds, to have a clear vision of her in their own minds, or even to be able to take her on and “wear her” as they were reading.
Perhaps a young Emily Blunt as Cori?
Max Thieriot as Kyle (Photo by Micheal Bezjan)
Strengths and weaknesses
Cori is frank, smart, cool-under-pressure, practical, down-to-earth, and persistent. She’s strong and independent. But some of her weaknesses (as with many of us, I think) are what you could call negative extensions of those positive traits. Cori’s persistence sometimes become stubbornness, and her strong independent streak makes it difficult for her to show weakness and accept help from others, to accept that some things are outside her control, or to accept that there may not be answers to the difficult questions she asks in this story – or at least answers that satisfy her.
Miley Cyrus as Drew
Quirk (if any)
Does making up stories about an imaginary twelve year old boy, Jip, and his pet monkey, Kiki, count? As a distraction and a coping mechanism Cori and the others on the team regularly devise elaborate plotlines for these imaginary characters when things get tough.
Josh Hartnett as Brendan
Your inspiration for the character
Cori’s strengths are ones that I wish I had had the gracious fortitude to consistently display on my own, very challenging, short-term mission trip when I was a teen. Cori’s weaknesses… alas, they’re all mine. Okay, I’m sort of kidding. But only sort of. In terms of Cori’s spiritual struggles, however, I will own those fully. The questions that Cori and the others grapple in the face of violence are questions that I struggled with at various times and in various forms during the decade that it took to write this story. It was this deep character and spiritual challenge that I was most interested in when I started to write – that question of what would happen to all of the characters, with their different personalities, in the face of great challenge.
Julia Stiles as Elissa
Background to the story
Cori signs up to take a mission trip to Indonesia during the summer after her senior year of high school. Inspired by happy visions of building churches and seeing beautiful beaches, she gladly escapes her complicated love life back home. Five weeks after their arrival, a sectarian and religious conflict that has been simmering for years flames to life with deadly results on the nearby island of Ambon. Within days, the church building the team had constructed is in ashes, its pastor and fifty villagers are dead, and the six terrified teenagers are stranded in the mountainous jungle with only the pastor’s teenage son to guide them to safety. Ultimately, Cori’s emotional quest to rediscover hope proves just as arduous as the physical journey home.