!( - )

!( - )

August 28, 2014

Miracle in a Dry Season Review

While perusing my choices of books to review from Bethany House*, I knew that I just had to go with Miracle in a Dry Season by Sarah Loudin Thomas when I saw that it was set in West Virginia. Pair its setting with the fact that it's a Christian historic novel, and I knew it would be right up my alley.

*I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Needless to say, I really wanted to like this novel from the start. Unfortunately... I didn't. There were four main issues I found while reading this book. {I won't go into the whole storyline, but spoilers are ahead!}

1~ Predictability. The ending was predictable from the start. When a book begins with a single guy and a single girl as the main characters, we know how it's going to end, no matter how many obstacles there seem to be. I know they had to go through a lot before they got together, but I would rather it not be so obvious from page one that they will indeed. There was a bit of a twist with the preacher toward the end--making the preacher so evil was unique. (Though I didn't like that Casewell didn't get more upset when he found out what the preacher had done to Perla. Some righteous indignation would have been quite satisfying.) And I was a little surprised when Perla ran away for a bit at the end--that was a good turn of events. But the twists all came to the conclusion I was expecting.

2~ Wording. You may know that I spent four years of college as a proofreader and then a year after as an editor of all kinds of books, including novels. And in those years I discovered that I have very high expectations for a book's quality in every way possible, sometimes even higher standards than the publishing house I was working for. In short, I simply could not reign in the editor in me, and though I don't think I found a single mistake--a very rare occurrence--there were several sentences that I couldn't help feeling could have been worded clearer, or less clunky. Nothing horribly glaring, but I should be so pulled into the story that I don't notice sentence structure. But it didn't pull me in enough to help turn off that switch of mine.

3~ Confusion. This is a realistic, Christian novel. So when we're going through the normalcy of the story and then find out that the heroine, Perla, has an unexplainable gift for making small amounts of food go unnaturally far--yes, like feeding the 5,000--I couldn't help reel a bit mentally. Though her "gift" bothered many townspeople, it was pretty much settled that it was her gift from God. God does give people gifts, yes, but I found this a bit out there. It did work with the plot (they were in the middle of a drought, so such a "gift" was certainly handy) but was so unrealistic that it was jarring in the midst of the rest of the story and lowered the believability level of a story that should have been nothing but totally believable.

4~ Lack of capturing WV. I saw that the author lives in North Carolina (small world!) but while reading the portrayal of West Virginia wondered if she was familiar with it or had just chosen it as her setting. Come to find out she grew up there! (Further that small world...) Maybe it's just me, maybe it's just her writing style, but I would have thought a novel about West Virginia, by someone who knows and loves it, would here and there attempt to get across the beauty of the state, but I didn't see that. Some events that happened did rather have an authentic feel, like the dances and several playing instruments, but mostly I just saw characters who happened to be in a rural setting. And some of the characters seemed to be a bit too polished, verbally, for mid-century, average West Virginians.

Overall, the book was adequately entertaining for late nights while Daniel and I were in our three weeks of long distance. But I don't plan to read it again and would not necessarily recommend it to my friends to read.

In a nutshell, I have super high expectations for anything I read and a BA in Creative Writing, plus the editor's disease. Add in that the book is set in West Virginia, and my expectations multiply, along with the book's chances of falling short of my expectations. It had a whole lot to live up to. So while others very well could find this book clever and entertaining, I was pretty disappointed.

However, I was proud to find a West Virginian who moved to North Carolina basing a book in the land she loves most!

Image Map

1 comment:

  1. It is soooo hard to get that editor's voice out of your head, isn't it! I had commercial writing as my double major in college and I've caught myself having such high expectations for the books I read!


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! Comments make me happy, and I strive to reply to every one. I almost always reply by email so I can be sure you see my reply, so please make sure you're not a no-reply blogger!