by Sarah Loudin Thomas (Goodreads Author)It's 1954 and Perla Long's arrival in the small town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.
Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor...until he meets Perla. She's everything he's sought in a woman, but he can't get past the sense that she's hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla's unique way with food brings both gratitude and condemnation, placing the pair in the middle of a maelstrom of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.
My Review: 3/10
This book was more contemporary than I usually go, but I thought I'd step outside of my normal and give it a try. I wondered if perhaps this was a new time period for the author as well; a couple of things struck me as just not right. For example, I just couldn't see a serious fear of witchcraft being used as a subplot for a story set in 1954.
I liked that Perla never revealed the details about Sadie's conception, not even to herself.
I liked the themes of forgiveness, applied in different ways, each unique to the situation.
I liked that Casewell was human, often not even realize his faults, like bing judgmental, when he thought he was being morally strong. I liked the honest portrayal of this man, who has an interest in Perla, but then upon hearing the truth, writes her off. His struggle in learning how to forgive Perla for betraying him before she belonged to him, was a new concept, definitely Christian. I thought it was well done.
And I thought it was interesting for a Christian book to paint a villain into a pastoral position. This would have been refreshing and an excellent opportunity to teach that that sometimes wolves wear sheeps clothing, that just because someone professes to be of God does not mean that they are impervious to sin and corruption, etc. Instead this character took a story that was sweet and made it taste rotten.
*SPOILER* Attempted rape from a pastor?! I know that it happens. I just wasn't expecting to stumble across it in this book based on the synopsis. Just because it didn't go very far, didn't mean i was able to gloss over it like it never happened. And it seemed to serve no other purpose in the book than to paint Perla as a victim and add drama to the story. Completely unnecessary.
And the sermons... where the pastor was telling the congregation that they needed his, not God's, but his forgiveness- why did no one contradict him?! This was 1954, not the dark ages, most people could read and had access to the Bible. The moment when he had them drop to the ground, face first, and crawl up to his feet... Oh it was nauseating. Even after he had been driven from town and Casewell took over preaching, I never felt like those things were properly addressed or any attempt was made to rectify the numerous wrongs. The snake was removed, but it wasn't enough; the poison needed sucked out too.