Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery,
historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs.
When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact . . .
until she finds real treasure inside:
a nineteenth-century diary. Now she’s on the hunt to find out more.
Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse
before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer’s,
he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home.
But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles:
Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the house,
and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.
A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins
embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime:
settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of
life, loss, and love–and a God who faithfully carries her through it all.
Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.
This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God’s plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.
This book sounded like a charming, small-town story of history, research, genealogy, caregiving, and searching for where a body belongs in this world of ours . . . and it delivered all that and so much more.
This is a split-time book, and in order for me to really get into it and enjoy it, all the elements of a good story must be present in both time periods . . . in essence, there must be two completed stories in the book, and this book delivered that wonderfully! I enjoyed both parts, although my favourite was the historical view point, which isn’t surprising, considering I do tend to read more historical novels than contemporary books. I enjoyed the way the two parts melded into one, and how the history was slowly revealed through the parts. I also enjoyed the surprising discovery of the relatives of Annabelle, even though I was kinda thinking that it would be cool if *that* were the case.
In the contemporary parts, you had a researcher, Sloane, who was searching for her roots, trying to figure out where exactly she belonged in the world. Being adopted, she didn’t have much information. The emotions she experienced throughout the book, and the emotional issues she dealt with were all so realistic, I could imagine that those who are adopted could actually really relate to her in that way. The way she lit up with each discovery of another piece of the puzzle was so sweet, and I loved the way Amanda Wen brought her to life. She was enthusiastic, sweet, uncertain, and stubborn, but by no means perfect.
Garret and Lauren had such a sweet brother/sister relationship. Sure, they argued, but they also admitted they were wrong, hugged each other, talked with each other, had fun with each other . . . their relationship was one of my favourite aspects of the whole story. It is so rare in fiction to see an accurate portrayal of a sibling relationship, and I really, really appreciated it. The way they worked together to care for their grandmother with Alzheimers was really sweet, as well, and I loved the way Garret was always teasing and picking at her, while still being encouraging and not taking it too far. The many comments about her cooking without gluten, sugar, eggs, using paleo ingredients, and his many complaints were hilarious, but the way he was always eating her food and enjoying it was too precious!
The relationship between Garret and Sloane was a bit of a downer for me, personally. To start off, they were great. It was a relationship built on working together to figure out the puzzle pieces in history. The wit and sarcasm were perfectly timed, and the the friendship developed slowly, but steadily. In the latter 1/3 of the book, all of a sudden it seemed as if they just became way too intimate way too quickly . . . but it could be me, ’cause I don’t really appreciate romance like that. If you do, you may find it sweet. Me? I found it a bit much and there were several scenes that I skimmed through.
I didn’t like the fact that it was a Christian novel and it seemed throughout the whole book as if they were only Christians because the reader had been told they were, if that makes sense. There was no evidence of being a Christian in their lives, only evidence of good morals. There were several times I was thinking, “Now would be a really good time to stop and pray and ask for God’s guidance” but they just plunged on making their own plans anyways. Later in the book, toward the latter 1/8 of the book, Garret *does* realize he’s been plunging on ahead without ever thinking about consulting God, and he does make amends . . . so that may have been a deliberate thing Mrs. Wen consciously decided to include/not include.
The historical aspect was my favourite. You have a very feisty heroine, Annabelle Collins, who is determined not to be left behind again. She leaves her nice, comfortable life to head west in the wagon and teach young children on the frontier. But she is SO much more than a cliched heroine, and I loved it.
To start with, she is faced with severe difficulties and trials. Every time she turns around, something happens, and it all drives her closer to her Lord. As we read through her journals, we were able to watch her grow up, marry, have children, and deal with everything life threw at her, in the best ways.
There were so many surprises along the way that it was absolutely lovely to read through! I never saw the end of Sloane’s story happening the way it did, and it was pretty neat to see all the ends tied up in a nice, neat package.
In conclusion, I’d say that because of some details that are mentioned (abandonment and the reason behind it, kisses I skimmed through, etc.) that this would be a book for adult (18+) readers.
*I’m thankful to have received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications through the Read with Audra program. All thoughts are my own.*
Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest, among others. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist.
Amanda is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and regularly contributes author interviews for their Fiction Finder feature. She also frequently interviews authors for her blog, and is a regular contributor to the God Is Love blog. Her debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone, releases from Kregel Publications on January 26, 2021.
In addition to her writing, Amanda is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and her church’s worship team, as well as serving as a choral accompanist. She’s also been spotted onstage with the worship band at ACFW conferences. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her patient, loving, and hilarious husband, their three adorable Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat.
I am a 23 year old young lady who is redeemed and saved from my sin only by the grace of God. A bibliophile at heart with a love of history who desires to see the Word of God practically applied to all aspects of our daily lives -- in our homes, in the grocery store, in the political realm. I strive to put my jumbled, chaotic thoughts down onto paper -- reducing them into black and white rows, letters, sentences. Into some semblance of sanity. And I share them here with all of you, where I can challenge you, make you think, and cause you to ask questions. I am the oldest of eleven children living the country life in the deep south.