Thursday, September 07, 2017

Book Review: GUIDE ME HOME

Title: Guide Me Home
Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publisher: WaterBrook
Pages: 352

Guide Me Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer follows her own well-established stylistic tradition in which the heroine is a girl of strong faith while the hero is one who does not yet know of God’s love and mercy.

Rebekah Hardin is the oldest of seven children. She lives with her hardworking parents and her younger sisters. The family, far from well off, suffers further after the death of Rebekah’s younger brother, 15-year-old Andy, who died in the local tourist attraction, Mammoth Caves, with Rebekah’s mother becoming a shadow of her former self.

Rebekah feels responsible for Andy’s death. She had snapped, “Get lost,” to him at their last interaction, following which Andy entered the caves and really got lost there. Rebekah feels that if Andy were laid to rest in the woods near their home, with a headstone, it would be a fitting gesture and give her mother closure. 

Since they don’t have the $26 required to buy the marker, Rebekah gets a job as a guide at Mammoth Cave, taking rich folks to show them around the Caves.

One of Rebekah’s sisters, Cissy, who resents her life and longs for a prince to rescue her out of poverty. Her stubbornness gets her into trouble, seeing love where there isn’t any, and not being able to see it where it exists in abundance.

Meanwhile, university student Devlin Bale comes to Mammoth Caves to chart out a more accurate map of the caves and to further the political ambitions of his professor-father. Devlin hails from a very wealthy family. His world is as far removed from Rebekah’s as possible and yet the two come together.

As the two come close, they are watched over by Tolly Sandford, the elderly black guide of Mammoth Caves, who feels responsible for Rebekah’s safety.

But will the friendship survive the class differences between the two? What will happen when Tolly and Rebekah get to know of Devlin’s agenda for the caves? Will he accept the faith that drives Rebekah? And will Cissy get into trouble on account of her attitude?

The story is told in the third person past tense point of view of Rebekah, Devlin, Cissy and Tolly.

The author creates a world, filling it with the details of life as it must have been in that time. It is a world in which women can’t vote and professional jobs such as guides are the preserve of men alone.

We learn more about the era from the fact that Rebekah’s parents have seven living and four babies stillborn and 15-year-old Andy dead. Life is hard and they are pitted in a battle for survival against nature.

I also liked the author’s trademark of shifting viewpoints in the middle of a situation.

I found Rebekah to be a sweet character who puts her family before her own needs. The caves have swallowed her brother, and she displays courage in her willingness to seek employment there.

I liked Rebekah’s description of a good marriage, such as the one her parents have. Sparks that never need somebody puffing at them to make them flare up again, sparks that didn’t die even when hardships came along.

The Mammoth Caves, and their history, form a large portion of this story. I was surprised to note that these caves are real, not imaginary. The narrative, as it relates to the caves, is very well told. We get an idea of the excitement and intrigue generated by the caves as also the very real danger they pose.

While this was a sweet book, I didn't find it as engaging as one of her previous books, Echoes of Mercy.

(I received a copy of Guide Me Home from WaterBrook Multnomah.)

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