It is 1936 and Kate Merritt, the middle child of Victor and Nadine, works hard to keep her family together. Her father slowly slips into alcoholism and his business suffers during the Great Depression. As her mother tries to come to grips with their situation and her sisters seem to remain blissfully oblivious to any problems, it is Kate who must shoulder the emotional load. Who could imagine that a dirty, abandoned little girl named Lorena Birdsong would be just what the Merritts need?
This richly textured novel reveals the power of true love, the freedom of forgiveness, and the strength to persevere through troubled times. Multidimensional characters face real and trenchant problems while maintaining their family bonds, all against the backdrop of a sultry Kentucky summer.
When this book was chosen as a book club selection, not one of us ladies realized that it was actually Christian fiction. Although I am a Christian, I have found that much Christian fiction I read just ends up being a bit too unrealistic for my taste. I can tell you that most of the ladies in my group loved this novel, while my final thoughts tend to be a bit more reserved.
Although I didn't enjoy this story as much as the other ladies, I did find appreciation within the story itself. We are brought to a small community in Kentucky during the Great Depression to follow the lives of the Merritt family. We are shown glimpses of past events that all of the family members have been avoiding, but now realize that they must confront these demons if their lives are going to continue without hurting one another.
Victor and Nadine fell in love long ago, and it was very touching as they both reflected on their love and lives together as they were struggling to keep their marriage intact. They were so young and in love that I don't think either one of them realized how they got to this place in their marriage where they no longer recognized each other. But Nadine kept her faith in the Lord and her husband and once Victor admitted to Nadine that he needed help, she embraced him and offered him her support.
Kate is the middle sister of the Merritt family and for some reason has taken the weight of the family's problems on her own shoulders. When Kate discovers a young girl that appears to be left on the church doorstep her motherly instincts take over and she takes young Lorena Birdsong under her wing. When Kate brings Lorena home everyone is smitten with her, but little do they know the fight that is ahead of them if they intend to try to offer a home to her in the future. This little girl's presence within the Merritt household ignites a tenacity within the household that is needed if they are going to stay together.
I don't want to give away any more of the story in the event that you read it yourself. As I indicated earlier, I did enjoy the story but there were snippets of the writing I did not enjoy. The book is told in third person, but every now and then a phrase was in there that was from a first person viewpoint. I also had a problem with the timeline throughout the novel. Very often a character was reflecting on past events and I found that the flow from past to present to be confusing. I found myself having to stop reading once and awhile and go back over the last couple of pages just to be sure I was following the story correctly.
Besides my few problems with this novel, I did find enjoyment from reading it. The ladies in my book club loved it and it created great discussions with themes of love, forgiveness, war, and familial relationships.
My Rating: 3/5
Disclosure: This book is from my personal collection and I read it as a book club selection.