“Fed up with the poor quality of life in 1880 New York, Tarsie Raines encourages her friends Joss and Mary Brubacher to move with their two children to Drayton Valley, Kansas, a booming town hailed in the guidebook as the land of opportunity. She offers to help with expenses and to care for Mary and the children as they travel west by wagon train. But when tragedy strikes on the trip across the prairie, Tarsie is thrown into an arrangement with Joss that leaves both of them questioning God and their dreams for the future. As their funds dwindle and nothing goes as planned, will Tarsie and Joss give up and go their separate ways, or will God use their time in Drayton Valley to turn their hearts toward him?” (from Goodreads)
I borrowed this from the library because it looked interesting.
I read the blurb and guessed at what would happen.
I started reading it and knew what was going to happen.
And I still loved it and need a copy because this book is not about the events but about the people. I think I’ll review the characters…
Mary was so sweet and hopeful and kind. I’ll hide this spoiler in case you didn’t guess it, but MAJOR SPOILER ALERT! Mary dies of breast cancer ¼ of the way through the book. *cries* END OF SPOILER She was truly an inspiring character, and I loved how she touched lives in small ways throughout the book. I want to be her when I grow up.
She was a feisty one! 😀 Very different from Mary, but loving and strong in the Lord. I really liked her character, especially how even though she was a strong Christian she still struggled with loving the unlovable. Her short prayer throughout the book was so real. 😉
I understood Joss so well, and he broke my heart. Struggling with addiction, incapable of loving or being loved (though he longs for both), and afraid of being close to his family for fear of hurting them. The author wrote him in such a way that I wasn’t repulsed by him but instead was rooting for him to turn to God for a heart change. One of my favorite parts was when he finally did the right thing with a huge lie he told Tarsie, even though the truth was painful and humiliating for both of them. Beginnings…
Simon and Ruth
The most darling couple to ever walk the pages of a book. I loved their healthy, friendly relationship and their courage to stand against the racism in their culture–both classic racism and reverse. Their joy and strength in the Lord were contagious. ❤ At first, I was uncomfortable with the portrayal of their dialect since some authors’ use of that has made their African American characters seem unintelligent (looking at you, Mark Twain), but I grew to see it as a celebration of their culture since Tarsie’s Irish accent was written out as well.
This book wasn’t just a pioneer story or a romance or even both. It showed how painful and strong and Christlike love can be. It showed how hard and how slow transformation can be. And it showed how Christ breaks through the mess of racism, addiction, and lies.
Since this book deals with some hard topics, I would not recommend it to younger readers. There was some rampant racism portrayed in one character’s point of few including use of the word “negro”, though the author did a good job showing this as wrong and balancing it out with Mr. Tollison’s respect for Simon. Some of Joss’ thoughts of what his father would say or do in his situation were inappropriate, and Joss thought so but they were still mentioned. Some passing mentions of leering men, “getting pleasure” from women, and “husbandly rights”. In the romance area, there were some more descriptive touches than I’m used to reading about, but everything was kept appropriate. Also, there was a one sentence allusion to a wedding night, but it was in the proper context and worded to cast it as the beautiful thing God means it to be.
Best quote: “He can, Joss! And He does! But…” She gathered her courage and placed her fingertips gently on his taut arm. “He loves you too much to leave you as you are, because He knows you can’t be happy wallowin’ in sinful behavior.” He stepped away from her touch. “And just how does He change a man, Tarsie?”
Altogether, I was happily surprised by this book, and it has helped cement Kim Vogel Sawyer as one of my new favorite authors. 😉