Belonging by Robin Lee Hatcher was sent to me as a review copy by Zondervan Publishing. It is the first book in the “Where the Heart Lives” series by this author.
Felicia Kristoffersen arrives in the town of Frenchman’s Bluff, Idaho, in 1897 determined to make a way for herself that is better than what she had in Wyoming. She is to be the town’s new school teacher, but not everyone here is completely welcoming.
The mercantile owner in Frenchman’s Bluff, Colin Murphy, is one of the people in the town who is unsure of hiring another single, female teacher. He feels Felicia is inexperienced, and he knows that a single gal is just looking for one thing: to catch a husband. Colin doesn’t want to see yet another school teacher leave after just one year (or less). His young daughter, Charity, whom he is raising alone since her mother died, needs to have every educational advantage that Colin himself didn’t have, and he is not quite sure Felicia is the teacher to fill that need.
Felicia must prove to the town that she is the right person for the job. Colin must learn to see that all things can work together for good. They will both have to hold fast to and even rediscover a faith that can truly sustain them through any circumstance.
Many of the books I have read recently have started off with a bang. I am partial to these types of books, because they pull me in right from the beginning. Belonging sort of eased its way into the story instead. So much so that I will even say that it got off to a pretty slow start. The thing that was good about the slower process was that I was able to really get involved with the two main characters, especially Felicia, so that I cared what happened to them.
However, during this slower start to the book, once Felicia arrived in the town of Frenchman’s Bluff, minor characters just came from everywhere! So, while I felt that I knew Felicia and Colin very well, it was difficult for me to keep up with who was who among all of the townspeople.
In this novel, most of the story is told from the perspective of Felicia and Colin. However, several times during the book, the point of view switches to a more minor character named Kathleen Summerville. I felt this was rather unique, considering that most novels of this type are told from just the perspectives of the two main characters. I am still unsure, even days after finishing this book, whether or not I liked this way to tell the story. It did make it possible for the reader to get “more of the story,” since Kathleen and Colin and Felicia were sort of in a love triangle. I really liked how Kathleen’s story ended, though, so it was nice to know more of her thoughts and feelings.
One thing that stood out for me in this book was how strong Felicia was in her love of God and in her faith. She took time out to pray and to study Scripture and to just be with her Father. When she faced difficult times, she relied on the promises of God from His Word. This is one thing that is often missing from Christian fiction, to my great sadness. In this story, though, Felicia relied on Christ and Scripture, and she was able to be a great example to the people in the town.
While it is rather predictable and somewhat slow to begin, Belonging is a nice, easy read that is well written and has main characters that are enjoyable.
I will give Belonging by Robin Lee Hatcher … 3 1/2 BookWorms.