by Stephanie Grace Whitson
First off, it’s been several weeks since I actually read this, so I am sorry that I can’t remember everyone’s names…
This book beautifully illustrates everything I hate about pseudo-Christian chick lit. The entire book was a slow-motion train wreck. The characters were stiff and wooden and made completely unrealistic decisions. The heroine was self-centered, stupid, and soulless. The heroes (because yes, there were two, involving the dreaded and pointless love-interest triangle) were overly stereotyped and thus unrelateable. The plot was full of drama and random deaths and accidents and Indian attacks and shipwrecks and robberies and betrayal all in an attempt to cover the fact that there was no storyline worth pursuing.
But the worst part was the attempt to make this a “Christian” story. While the heroine wanders about bemoaning her lack of faith, and the heroes spout Bible verses (and one of them decides to become a missionary), there is no depth. No real issues are addressed, and there is no resolution–the heroine begins the book confused by the things that are happening in her life and wondering why God is allowing these things to happen. In the end, not only have none of her questions been answered, she has basically decided that she doesn’t care about those questions any more, and decides to marry the missionary dude despite the fact that she isn’t sure that her faith is strong enough to make him a good wife.
Instead of taking an opportunity to have some real discussions about how God uses events in our lives to shape us, grow us, and teach us, the author seems content to brush all of the heroine’s concerns aside in favor of a “happy ending.” I was left feeling like the marriage that was the book’s climax would be a long and difficult struggle, rather than a strong partnership.
The love triangle was also pointless and frustrating, because I actually liked the other fellow far better, and felt that he would have been a much better match for the heroine; plus, she led him on dreadfully. See, they end up in this town in the frontier, and she likes Dude #1 a lot, and there is no reason not to, because he’s charming in every way. Then Dude #1 has to go off on this important quest, so he leaves her behind, but they have this kind of unspoken agreement because they’ve been together for a couple of months now and flirting like crazy. While Dude #1 is gone, the chick meets Dude #2, who is a doctor and who has a son who is blind. Well, the chick’s best friend is blind so she knows all these ways to help the son get along (he wasn’t born blind; he had been blinded by some disease) and pretty soon she’s having dinner at their house and hanging out with them all the time and comforting Dude #2 when he’s struggling with different things and they’re all homey and cozy because she hangs out there in the evenings knitting and stuff and basically she just totally ignores the fact that she more or less told Dude #1 that she was interested in him. Then Dude #1 gets attacked by Indians on his way back (except they were actually attacking another band of Indians and he just got caught in the crossfire because OF COURSE the Indians would never attack a white man because they’re super nice and not anything like the bloodthirsty stereotype!) and he gets this weird brain injury where he loses his voice so now she has both dudes and she keeps dithering back and forth and it is just DREADFUL. And in the end, she marries Dude #1, and I actually think she would have done much better with Dude #2, so even that didn’t end right as far as I was concerned.
Finally, the very title of this book made no sense. There was no reason at all why the chick shouldn’t have fallen in love with and married the dude that she did. They were equals socially and financially, they were attracted to each other and got along fine. In fact, the only reason the match seemed unsuitable was because the dude far more serious about his faith than she was, and that was the one thing that the author completely ignored.
All in all, this book was definitely a mere 1/5.