Saturday, November 5, 2011

Whisper of Peace - Kim Vogel Sawyer

One key to any good book is realistic characters and that is easily found in this novel.  Each of the three main characters in this book struggle with feelings that any reader can identify with - trying to live up to a parent's expectation, abandonment,  rejection, guilt, anxiety, broken relationships, forgiveness, reconciliation and the love of God all weave together in this novel.

Lizzie Dawson's father (a white man) left her and her mother when Lizzie was twelve to go back to San Francisco, where he felt Lizzie's mother wouldn't fit in.  When Lizzie's mother becomes seriously ill, Lizzie's mother's dying request is that she would make peace with her grandparents before going to live with her father, but Lizzie's not sure how to bridge the gap that separates her from her tribe. Lizzie lives alone in the mountains of Alaska and continues to practice the ways of her people, despite being an outcast among her own people...and she really doesn't fully understand why. 

Missionary step-siblings, Clay and Vivian set up an Alaskan church among the native people.  Clay is extremely driven and passionate and trying to follow in his father's footsteps, bringing many native Alaskans to God.  Vivian is seeking to be rid of the burden of guilt she's carried since the death of her father - she blames herself.  Vivian also struggles adapting to a new way of life, with fatigue, homesickness, and the culture shock that a missionary to a foreign field truly feels.  She surprises herself by befriending the people and the children of the village. She feels useful when she becomes friends with a village outcast - Lizzie Dawson.  Lizzie is very self sufficient and can care for herself quite well—she can hunt, trap, fish, harvest food, tend her sled dogs and survive just fine except for one thing—the terrible loneliness that eats at her soul day and night. Lizzie doesn't realize the extent of her loneliness until she meets Clay and Vivian. Vivian and Lizzie become friends as she teaches Vivian to cook.  Vivian teaches Lizzie how to behave like a white woman for when she leaves.

When Lizzie's grandparents find out that the missionary siblings have befriended their excommunicated granddaughter, Lizzie, they must make a choice: never speak to Lizzie again or leave their village.  Can they risk disappointing the church that sent them into the mission field?  They struggle just as hard, if not harder, at the thought of giving Lizzie up.

This was the first time I've read anything by Kim Vogel Sawyer, but it won't be my last.

I wish to thank the wonderful people of Bethany House Publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book for my review.

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