Saturday, November 2, 2013

"Under a Blackberry Moon" Review

When Moon Song, a young Chippewa woman with an infant son, stumbled into Robert Foster’s lumber camp in October of 1867, she was immediately taken in by those who were working at the camp. After settling in there, Moon Song was even able to care for one of the lumberjacks, Isaac Ross – known to almost everyone as Skypilot – when he was injured rescuing one of Robert’s children from a falling tree.

Now that summer has come to the North woods, Robert enlists Skypilot to accompany the young widow Moon Song back to her people on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. When disaster comes to them on their journey, they must depend on each other for their very survival. The longer they are together and the more difficult their journey becomes, the more Moon Song and Skypilot are drawn to each other.

Set in the rugged North woods of Michigan, Under a Blackberry Moon gives an awe-inspiring view of this unforgiving land and the native people who made this place their home.

The Measure of Katie Calloway – a previous novel by this author – tells the story of Robert and Katie at the lumber camp, and Moon Song and Skypilot are both other characters in that novel. After enjoying that novel and others by Serena B. Miller, I was really looking forward to reading this one.

And it completely blew me away.

Since I was familiar with the characters, I was able to get into the story very quickly, and from there the various plot lines were so intense and so exciting that I never wanted to put it down.

My assumption was that the entire book would be about Skypilot and Moon Song’s journey to find her people, so I was a bit disappointed when that part ended halfway through. The journey that Moon Song and Skypilot find themselves on was such an adventure, and I thought that when that part of the book ended that the whole thing would slow down. But it really didn’t. What I did not realize was that there were so many other intricacies to their stories that needed to be told. This is what happened during the rest of the novel, and it was done with amazing skill.

I really liked how balanced this book was as well. The romance between Moon Song and Skypilot was of course a major plot of the story, but it didn’t overshadow what was going on in all of the other areas of their lives. It was told alongside all of those other events, which made it weave throughout the entire novel rather than sitting on top of it and weighing down the other areas of the story.

There was also a good balance between the stories of the fictional characters and the history of this time and place. I always feel so bad when I read about the injustice that was committed by white settlers towards the Native American people. At first I felt as if I was being preached at when this subject was brought to the forefront in this book. But as I continued to read, I realized that I was just being defensive about how the white settlers acted. I mean, most of my ancestry is traced back to Europe – those white settlers who committed such atrocities against Native American and African American people – and so when I read about these things, I feel really bad. I will say that my grandmother’s great-grandmother was Cherokee. That is pretty far back in my lineage, but it is something that I know about, and my family has always been proud of this part of our history. So, even though it was hard to read, the part of the novel that focused on the plight of the Chippewa and other Native Americans at this time was very thought-provoking.

The balance in this novel carried over into the spiritual aspect as well. Even though it was a major plot point – especially when it came to Skypilot admitting that he could not marry Moon Song if she was not a believer in Christ – it was done so well that it felt seamless. The message of salvation through Christ was clear without being preachy. It felt genuine and was very realistic.

I could go on and on about the things that I liked about this novel. The historical setting was fantastic and was described in realistic detail. The secondary characters were well-blended into the storyline – they were realistic without taking over the entire story – and the main characters were sincere and experienced a tremendous amount of growth over the course of the novel. It also had a satisfying conclusion, and I really enjoyed the author’s note at the end.

Under a Blackberry Moon is a grand adventure with a great story, interesting characters, and a sweet romance. This novel might not be for everyone, but for me – someone who loves Christian historical/romantic fiction – it was near perfect.

I will give Under a Blackberry Moon ... 4.5 BookWorms!

Under a Blackberry Moon
by Serena B. Miller
Revell Publishers
Publication date: October 15, 2013

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell 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."

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