Falling into the Light by M.J. Wiley is set in the mid 19th century. It is a fictional narrative of a young Dalai Lama's sudden decision to travel to the United States while on a diplomatic visit from Tibet to China. During this journey, His Holiness assumes another man's identity and gets a glimpse of life in America. He travels from America's west coast to Washington D.C and comes into contact with people from all walks of life - ruffians, Native Americans, a prostitute, and even President Lincoln. The Dalai Lama's life experience allows him to have a greater understanding of the Buddhist principles he had learned all his life. This enables him to serve in his role as the Dalai Lama with greater empathy when he returns to Tibet.
This was an enjoyable read vividly describing life in America during the 1800s. Several Buddhist principles were incorporated into the story. I particularly liked a couple of short poems about living in the moment and being responsible for our actions.
I would have liked for the author to specify the year the events took place to give the reader a better sense of the timeline. The Dalai Lama's love story was also somewhat incomplete but perhaps the author intentionally left it so. The book is somewhat on the pricey side for a book that has only 134 pages though.
There are multiple social issues including slavery, civil war, attacks on Native Americans, all of which were touched upon briefly, but Kudos to the author for an unconventional storyline and interesting premise.
Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds
© Juhi Ray