Saturday, June 2, 2012
David C. Cook, 2012
YA Historical Christian Fiction
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
While I didn't fall in love with Bergren's River of Time trilogy like many other bloggers, I still enjoyed most of the story and eagerly added this book to my tbr-list when I heard about it. I am so very glad I did as I loved this book! Why did this book work so well for me? Well three main things would be:
1. I found the first couple of chapters both bewildering and incredibly emotionally powerful. Bewildering as it was set in rural Montana (well really is there any other kind?), which seemed very much at odds with the elegant Parisian cover. How does poor teacher Cora with parents who mortgaged their farm to send her to teacher college end up in Paris? But intense because Cora is arriving home only to discover that her father has suffered a stroke. The family bonding and the hope felt by them as he bravely fought grabbed me by the throat.
2. While this book does spend time in Montana, the majority of it (and the rest of the series) is in Europe following seven young people including Cora on a Grand Tour. How cool is that? I've read books with that mentioned but I've never read any specifically focused on it. This book has a brief stop in London followed by a longer time in France with future adventures in Italy to come.
3. I did share this in a goodreads status update if you happened to catch it: there's a guy named Will! That's kind of a small reason but I immediately decided that I liked him, which was further confirmed by the fact that he is just a good guy.
I'm not exactly sure how much else to reveal as the goodreads summary reveals what I would consider to be a major spoiler right in the first sentence. Suffice it to say that Cora is a strong young lady facing tremendous challenges as she embarks on the adventure of a lifetime. She is definitely the main focus with most of the supporting characters needing a bit more color to fully come alive.
One of the things I didn't really like was the narrative style with Cora narrating the majority of the book in first-person but with her father and Will narrating some chapters in third-person. I found it very jarring although I did appreciate their outside perspectives on Cora and their pride in her for the way she holds up to outside scrutiny and judgment. I also felt like some of it was repetitive with Cora deciding to bravely keep her head high, then wilting under examination, and then doing it all over again. On the one hand, I completely understand this; I try to follow Christ's example, I fail, I repeat until I hopefully eventually succeed. But on the other hand, it can be a bit boring to read about. Luckily the strong foundation of the beginning carried me through such moments.
Compared to the River of Time trilogy, I did find this book to be more overtly Christian with Cora constantly leaning on her faith in God to get her through the many difficult moments. However I did not find it to be too in your face or preachy. Scripture is not on every page and it is more about the relationships than anything else. As a Christian, though, I may not be the best judge of religiosity so you'll want to check out some other reviews for more information on that front.
Overall: An exciting historical fiction that sets up relationships that I'm excited to explore over the course of the next two books.
Cover: When I looked at this picture as a thumbnail, I didn't realize the model was looking at us and I preferred it that way. I don't need to see her face and with that change, I would love this cover. As it is, I do love the font and the little flourishes on the A and S's as well as seeing the Eiffel Tower, which is referenced.