When Christina Willems and her father moved to Kansas to establish the Brambleville Asylum for the Poor, she never thought that one day she would be running it by herself. Since her father’s death, Christina is the one to whom these poor, misplaced individuals look for leadership and for friendship.
When a fire destroys part of the Asylum, Christina must find temporary shelter for the residents until it can be rebuilt. She is able to do so for all but one – an 11-year-old blind boy named Tommy. With nowhere else to go, Christina asks the reclusive mill owner, Levi Jonnson, to take Tommy. Levi reluctantly agrees, but then he is surprised at how quickly he becomes attached to the small boy.
As Christina works to rebuild the Asylum and to reunite her “family,” she begins to encounter obstacles at every turn. As each day passes – and as the residents begin to find homes and jobs away from the Asylum – Christina starts to question why God has seemingly taken away her ministry. And the more she deals with Levi Jonnson, the more interesting and attractive he becomes.
Will Christina ever be able to recover all that she seems to have lost?
The overall plot of this book is similar to another novel that I read recently, and I was concerned at first that it would be difficult to distinguish between the two. Although there were some things in parallel, this novel was still able to stand on its own.
To me this book was very interesting and grounded at times and then at other times seemed to be all over the place. But I guess the overall feel does correlate to how Christina feels throughout the book – displaced and chaotic.
The story is told from four different points of view, which kind of took me by surprise at first. Because the reader sees every facet of the plot, there are not too many surprises. For the most part, I liked having all of this information and the different points of view, but it did contribute to the all-over-the-place feel that I mentioned earlier.
Even though these different points of view contributed a bit to the disjointed feel, I did like the stories that were told through Levi, Christina, Cora, and Tommy. I especially liked the perspective of Tommy, the blind child. I thought the author did a great job putting the reader in the mind and surroundings of a child who was blind, and the relationship between Tommy and Levi was fantastic.
The romance in this novel to me felt a bit rushed. Christina and Levi didn’t seem to spend much quality time together, and the romance kind of takes a back seat to all of the chaos that is going on with the residents.
The one thing that was grounded in this book was the spiritual aspect. I felt that it was clear, it was rooted in Christ and the Bible, and the characters experienced tremendous growth through the course of the novel. It was neat to see how God was at work the whole time through all of the situations. It was also a great reminder that those of us who profess to be Christians need to remember that we are sinners saved by grace and that we should reach out to others in love rather than condemn others in judgment.
All of the main characters experienced growth in the novel, but Christina’s came to the forefront. She had to come to the point where she asked herself if she was doing ministry for herself rather than for the glory of God. She couldn’t see God’s hand in her situation or in the lives of the others until she chose to trust in Him completely.
What Once Was Lost is a historical fiction novel that is a little light on the romance but does a good job of delivering a message of faith and trust in the God who directs our steps.
I will give What Once Was Lost ... 3 ½ BookWorms.
What Once Was Lost
by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publication date: September 17, 2013
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Publishers. 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."