About the Book
Rebekah Hendricks dreams of a life far beyond her family’s farm in Oklahoma, and when dashing aviator Arthur Samson promised adventure in the big city, she is quick to believe he’s the man she’s meant to marry. While she waits for the Great War to end and Arthur to return to her so they can pursue all their plans, her mother’s sister falls ill. Rebekah seizes the opportunity to travel to Texas to care for Aunt Adabelle, seeing this chance to be closer to Arthur’s training camp as God’s approval of her plans.
But the Spanish flue epidemic changes everything. Faced with her aunt’s death, Arthur’s indecisiveness, and four children who have no one else to care for them, Rebekah is torn between the desire to escape the type of life she’s always led and the unexpected love that just might change the dream of her heart.
This may be Anne Mateer’s publishing debut, but nothing about this book screams novice. Her style is unique and refined, bringing a fresh perspective to the Christian historical fiction market.
First person narration is difficult to sell to readers because the writer is asking us to internalize and imbed ourselves instantly in a foreign persona. Rarely have I been so immersed (and so easily) in the psyche and heart of a character as I was with Rebekah. At first her emotional frailty and naiveté called out to me as someone who needed nurturing and guidance. As the story progressed, she conquered one obstacle after another lacking grace and perfection, but maturing with every step. Anne Mateer has penned a character who is, for better or worse, honest with readers about what she is feeling, hoping, and dreaming. The result is a poignant and insightful character spotlight with a fresh voice and approach.
An engaging supporting cast of characters appeared throughout Rebekah’s journey with a natural ebb and flow. The children were written by someone who clearly understands the daily demands and ups and downs of motherhood. They were not saints nor terrors-but realistic children in mourning who had witnessed devastation and were learning to open their hearts again. Rebekah’s new friends infused the story with humour and companionship that relieved her isolation.
Not to be outdone by the strength of the characters, the plot continually builds with tension throughout the book. The time period and setting of the American rural homefront during the First World War and the accompanying terror of the Spanish Influenza epidemic are rarely depicted in Christian historical fiction. It was a time plagued with uncertainty as the world waited on the cusp hovering between old and new. It was a new kind of war built on old political tensions, and old way of life infused with modern advances, old daily routines with new burdens. When one conflict reached a conclusion, another one was waiting off-stage so that there was never a lag in flow.
When I finished this book I yearned for more. I hope we won’t have to wait too long to see what Anne Mateer has for us next.
**Review copy provided by Bethany House Publishers**