I must confess I braced myself for the usual brand of Christian romantic historical fiction here. [I grew up on a steady diet of Janette Oke and Bodie Thoene (to name a few).] But I was pleasantly surprised. The plot is pretty good, the writing needs a touch of work (which will come, no doubt, with the author's maturation as an author--this is a first novel), and I didn't find it too preachy.
This is a love story, yes, but it's also a story of a young 13-year-old girl coming to grips with her own spiritual need for God and with the ways in which she has hardened her heart to everyone she meets; the book takes us from this young age of 13 all the way to her late teens/early 20's (and, because of the time period, this is an "older" age than we might think it today). Her physical/emtional coming of age mirrors her spiritual coming of age. Her own mother is dying of brain cancer when the book opens; after she dies, Allie is sent to live with an adoptive mother (Beatrice) in Maine. The book takes place in the 1940's on the before/during/after WWII.
A few quibbles: as I mentioned, the writing is a touch trite at times--or, well, immature sounding. I found Allie's unrecognition of her old friend Sam a bit far fetched (he shows up in Maine after not having seen Allie in a few years). I also wondered why it took SO long for her to come to grips with her adoptive mom Beatrice, to find out more about Beatrice and daughter Irene's background, how Allie seemed to magically end up in Maine after a short-ish car ride from TN (that car ride would have taken FOREVER in the '40's.... just sayin'), why more people didn't try to help her when her mom was sick/dying, and why more people weren't helping her after her mom died.
Overall, though, I like the honesty Allie expresses, the way she "comes to faith" near the end of the novel,* and her relationship with Sam and the other Maine characters. The love story is well done. The Emily Dickinson references at the beginning of each chapter are a nice touch. This will be a fun read (and slightly "deeper" read) for those who enjoy Christian romantic historical fiction!
In stores now and perhaps soon in libraries; I read this as an ARC from netgalley. Cover image from goodreads.com
*What is the best way to communicate a character's spiritual change? Do we really need to repeat their prayers word-for-word--are people reading this kind of book really going to hear the gospel that way? I honestly don't know. I always find it a bit trite. I'm wondering if the author could describe the conversion simply and provide a footnote with the gospel more clearly explained???
Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?
Any books you've read in which you thought a conversion was really well done? (feel free to leave a comment and share some titles/thoughts with us!!)