A riveting story...I had no idea when I started it that I would find it so entrancing and gripping, and make me want to learn more about that time and age and place. It's not my first by this author, who I have really liked, but it is her crowning achievement so far, and I will follow her in the future.
“The cold feeling washed over me again – a brew of fear, fascination, and uncertainty. How could all this be coincidence? Who’d left this thing on my desk, and with what intention?” Jen questions in Lisa Wingate’s novel, "The Story Keeper." Nineteenth book by the author, this four hundred page paperback targets those that enjoy Christian historical fiction involving cultural biases, unrequited love, and complicated family dynamics. With no profanity, the topic of physical and mental abuse may not be appropriate for immature readers. In this current-day tome written in first person, thirty-one year old Jennia Beth Gibbs has physically freed herself from her backwoods upbringing in the Blue Mountains of North Carolina and her dreams have true come true as editor for New York’s Vida House Publishing. The emotional scars of her poor, dysfunctional family stay well hidden as she tries to forget her mother’s abandonment and her abusive father’s involvement in the cultish Church of The Brethren Saints. When a mysterious partial manuscript appears on Jen’s desk during her first week at the new job, she hopes no one considers she has taken it from the untouchable Slush Mountain of rejected works. Reading the first few chapters, she is captivated immediately by the story of an Appalachian Melungeon girl named Sarra whose father has abused and left her at the ruthless Brown Diggers Outpost at Looking Glass Gap. When Sarra is rescued by the naÃ¯ve but compassionate young Rand Champlain, the two escape from those that think the woman is demon-possessed due to her heritage. Emotionally connected to the story, Jen approaches her boss when she concludes that Evan Hall, a well-known author avoiding public notoriety in North Carolina, wrote the tender story. Her boss sends her back to her roots to obtain a book contract, not realizing Jennia Beth must deal with her family’s tragic issues of poverty and patriarchal control at the same time. While the aloof Evan stubbornly insists he is not the writer of the manuscript, more chapters arrive anonymously in the editor’s possession. Starting off on the wrong foot, the two get thrown together more and more while their family issues escalate. With vivid Blue Mountain scenery and realities of racism, religion, and the underprivileged, more than Jen and Evan must decide who and what is important as they realize God is watching over them. Once again Wingate’s woven tale of love and redemption grows in the reader’s heart. Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for furnishing this book in exchange for a review based on the reader’s opinions.