Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"A Whisper of Peace" Review

A Whisper of Peace by Kim Vogel Sawyer was sent to me as a review copy by Bethany House Publishers.

Lizzie Dawson has lived her entire life in the mountains of Alaska. Her life was a happy one until her white father decided to leave her Native (Athabascan) mother and go back to his previous life in San Francisco. And now that her mother is dead, Lizzie is alone. She has hopes of reconciling with her Native grandparents in the nearby village, but their resistance is firm.

Clay Selby has dreamed his whole life of being a missionary like his father. Finally, in 1898, he ventures to Alaska to start a church and school among the Athabascan people. When he meets Lizzie living on the outskirts of the village, he is captivated by her. But forming a friendship with Lizzie is frowned upon by the villagers, and Clay does not want to risk his already tremulous relationship with the Athabascans.

Both Clay and Lizzie have some things to learn about ministry and about forgiveness. Only God can bring peace to their lives and the lives of the people around them.

This is my first time reading a novel by Kim Vogel Sawyer, and I was excited to read a historical fiction book set in Alaska, a place I would love to visit someday. I also like stories that have sort of a ‘fish out of water’ quality to them, and Clay (and his sister, Vivian) journeying to Alaska as missionaries definitely fit the bill.

I was not immediately swept into the story, but as I kept reading, I realized that maybe this was the intention. The characters are developed very well, and there are not so many characters that you can’t keep them straight. The reader is allowed to get to know the three main characters (Lizzie, Clay, and Vivian) fully. There is a lot of detail to the description of Lizzie and her surroundings (with very little dialogue, since she lived alone), which sometimes made me feel bogged down. While I was somewhat uninterested with the descriptions at times, I did come away with a huge sense of the loneliness that Lizzie must have felt after years of living all by herself and being ostracized from the tribe.

Clay and Vivian are appropriately out of place, and it was fun to watch them adjust to their new life in Alaska. I also felt that each character’s growth in relation to their faith in God was appropriate and handled very well. Forgiveness is a major theme, since most of the story is wrapped up in the tribe’s banishment of Lizzie because of her mixed heritage.

For me, this novel did not have too much adventure to it, which is what I would expect from a book set in Alaska in 1898. It moves along at an easy and comfortable pace. There were a couple of things to figure out and ponder in relation to the characters’ lives along the way, but, for the most part, there were few surprises for me.

I also felt that I needed more closure to the end of Vivian’s story. Her story didn’t completely come to an end during the main portion of the book. Then it seemed as if we jumped over way too much when the reader is updated about her life during the epilogue.

While this book didn’t blow me away, it was a pleasant read that delivered just what the title suggests, A Whisper of Peace.

I will give A Whisper of Peace … 3 Bookworms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers/Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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