Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: Through the Deep Waters by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Book Cover and Synopsis:
Born to an unloving prostitute in a popular Chicago brothel, timid seventeen-year-old Dinah Hubley was raised amidst the secrets held in every dark, grimy room of her home. Anxious to escape, Dinah pursues her dream of becoming a Harvey Girl, waiting tables along the railroad in an upscale hotel. But when she finds out she isn’t old enough, her only option is to accept a job as a chambermaid at the Clifton Hotel in Florence, Kansas. Eager to put everything behind her, Dinah feels more worthless than ever, based on a single horrible decision she made to survive.

The Clifton offers a life Dinah has never known, but blinded to the love around her, Dinah remains buried in the shame of her past. When a handsome chicken farmer named Amos Ackerman starts to show interest, Dinah withdraws further, convinced no one could want a sullied woman like her.  Despite his self-consciousness about his handicapped leg and her strange behavior, Amos resolves to show Dinah Christ’s love. But can she ever accept a gift she so desperately needs?

My source for book: Review Copy
My Thoughts:
Dinah's situation is a tough one, and it's something that Christian fiction doesn't often delve into. The set-up for the story is actually quite intriguing as young Dinah plots how to start a fresh new life, with her need for travel funds being at the top of her requirements. Out of desperation she makes a bad choice that brings about some uncomfortable scenes, though the author does handle them fairly well despite going into slightly more detail than I expected. (Nothing graphic, though!) It's a heartbreaking scenario--no doubt it's fairly realistic for some girls--and it does serve to open up your mind to the tragic and secret pasts that some people have.

The point-of-view switches back and forth between Dinah, Amos, and Ruthie. I liked the perspectives of Dinah and Amos, but unfortunately I found Ruthie's perspective somewhat annoying, especially in the beginning. She alternated between being overly happy and perky or being overcome with feelings of jealousy towards Dinah. Though her misjudgement and envy towards Dinah is actually realistic, overall I found it to be irksome considering the truth of Dinah's sad past. In Ruthie's defense though, I really appreciated the lesson she learned of how she needed to pursue her relationship with God in order to gain happiness, rather than pinning all her hopes on finding a husband.

I have to admit that the writing struck me as having a somewhat simple vibe. The storyline isn't simple, but the way it's written--the dialogue in particular--has a somewhat plain feeling. I've never experienced this with any of the author's other books, so I was somewhat caught off guard by it. I can't really describe it any better than I have, but something about it unfortunately made me view the characters as being slightly immature for their ages.

Though the story started out fairly strong, I felt that it began to run out of steam about half or three-quarters of the way through. In the end Dinah is forced to face her past head on, and the way it played out was a situation I saw coming long before it happened. It got so predictable that I ultimately became anxious to see the end simply so I could move on to something else. If you're a die-hard fan of Kim's writing then it's probably still worth checking this one out....but otherwise, I would recommend reading one of her other works instead. (I highly recommend My Heart Remembers or Echoes of Mercy.)

My Rating: 3 stars

Thanks to the publisher (Waterbrook) for providing me with a review copy.

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